The Catalans Dragons have been told to prepare to face the best player on the planet when Bradford come to Perpignan today.
"I believe that on current form Stuart Fielden is the best player in the world," said the Dragons' assistant coach, Paul Donkin, of the Bulls and Great Britain prop. "Facing him at the moment is an absolute test, but my forwards are pretty useful as well and are looking forward to facing him."
Donkin, who is in charge of the Dragons until their new head coach, Mick Potter, arrives later this month, says that there will be a partisan Catalan atmosphere to greet the Bulls.
"The town is buzzing at the prospect of Bradford visiting and we are looking forward to the atmosphere in the stadium," he said. "We need it to be a cauldron."
Donkin says that the Catalans would have won the two away games they have lost since their opening-day victory over Wigan if they had been able to field the New Zealand scrum-half Stacey Jones. Their injured captain is ruled out again today, but Frédéric Teixido is promoted after good form for the feeder club UTC in the French Championship. Laurent Frayssinous continues at stand-off after impressing against Castleford.
The Bulls coach, Brian Noble, has no fresh injury concerns following last week's win over Salford, which saw the giant New Zealand wing Lesley Vainikolo return from a knee injury he suffered in pre-season.
The Huddersfield forward Steve Snitch, who was signed from Wakefield in the close season, goes back to Belle Vue for the first time today, feeling that he and his team-mates have something to prove to their supporters. The Giants were blitzed in the first half at Wigan last week in a match they eventually lost 34-20.
"This match is our chance to prove to everyone that Huddersfield are better than the Wigan result suggests," Snitch said. "We didn't do ourselves justice."
Snitch admits that going back to his former club will be an extra incentive for him this evening.
"Obviously this first visit back to Belle Vue is special and I want to do well," he said. "The first thing I did when the fixtures came out was to look when we played Wakefield."
Connoisseurs of a good, old-fashioned grudge match might also feel inclined to make their way to the Halton Stadium tomorrow for the Northern Rail Cup tie between the two sides relegated from the Super League last season, Widnes and Leigh.
Their meeting two weeks ago produced a sending-off, two sin-binnings and an all-in brawl in a 27-20 victory for Leigh.Reuse content