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8th March 2019, 11:09 | super_league

Dragons must be on fire away from home - Whitley

Dragons must be on fire away from home - Whitley

Matt Whitley is thrilled to be playing in front of the passionate Catalans Dragons fans but knows they must improve their away form if they are to challenge for the Betfred Super League title.

The French side, who have traditionally struggled on their trips to England, had high hopes of a top-five finish after lifting the Challenge Cup in 2018 but their old failing has resurfaced so far with defeats in both of their away matches.

However, they followed up their home win over Huddersfield Giants with a notable victory over Warrington Wolves in Perpignan last Saturday and will be looking to extend their 100 per cent record at Stade Gilbert Brutus when Salford Red Devils are the visitors on Saturday.

“Our away form is something we’re looking to fix,” said Whitley. “We can’t rely on our home form to get us through the rest of the season.

“To get the win over Warrington was massive for us. They were putting a lot of teams to bed quite convincingly.

“We’re not taking Salford lightly because they’ve started the season decently as well.”

Whitley, whose signing by the Dragons was overshadowed by those of bigger-name English recruits Sam Tomkins and Matty Smith, has settled well in the south of France, where he is due to become a father before the end of the month.

“It was a big move, especially to a country where you don’t speak the language,” said the 23-year-old back rower who joined the Dragons on a two-year contract from the relegated Widnes Vikings.

“It was something I had to think long and hard about, especially with the girlfriend being pregnant at the time. It took a lot of thought before we decided to come out.

“But we’re settling in okay and the weather’s improving now, there are lots of smiles on faces.

“It’s a proper working-class town. The Catalans fans are very passionate people and they love their rugby over here.

“It’s great to see them on my side rather than being on the receiving end.

“To win the Challenge Cup last year was massive for them and they’re hoping for big things again this year.”

Veteran Australian forward Greg Bird is set to make his first appearance of the season for the Catalans after recovering from a broken thumb, while Salford coach Ian Watson has drafted former Vikings forward Adam Lawton into his squad for the first time after losing Tyrone McCarthy with a knee injury.