Jason Baitieri Interview
Jason Baitieri says Catalans Dragons will need to improve their poor away record if they are to be considered play-off contenders this season.
The Dragons won just two games on the road in 2015- a 40-4 drubbing away at Wakefield and a 28-24 dead rubber match against Hull FC in the Super 8s.
Laurent Frayssinous’ side get their season underway on Friday night when they face Wigan at the DW Stadium and Baitieri says the team are determined to turn their away fortunes around this campaign.
“We’ve addressed it a few times and it’s a combination of preparation and a mental battle,” Baitieri told NothingButLeague.
“Mentally we have to be strong enough to find a way when we’re struggling on the field to push through.
“The club puts us in the most professional preparation they can with arranging flights and hotels but at the end of the day it’s up to the players to really turn it on and to be able to shake the monkey off our back and to get wins away from home.
“We’ve got the team to do it and have to show from round one that we have the team to do this.”
On the other hand Catalans’ home record is exemplary and the Dragons have turned the Stade Gilbert Brutus into a fortress which teams don’t enjoy visiting.
Only Leeds and Huddersfield left the south of France with the two points last season and is a record which Baitieri believes the players gain a lot of confidence from.
“Our home record speaks for itself. A lot of teams dread coming over and playing us and we get a lot of confidence from that,” said the France international.
“We need to find out now a way now of going into away games with that confidence also.”
Catalans have recruited well ahead of the new campaign with the likes of Pat Richards, Glenn Stewart, Richie Myler, Justin Horo and Paul Aiton coming in to bolster the squad.
However, the Dragons have lost some of their stand-out players from 2015 but Baitieri insists the quality of the players coming in ensures the team won’t suffer.
“It’s tough losing guys like Zeb Taia, Elliott Whitehead and Scott Dureau. They’ve been a part of the club for the past three, four, five years,” explained the loose-forward.
“They brought a lot to the team but the players we’ve recruited I think are fitting in really well. They’ve got a wealth of experience. Some have played Super League and some have played at the highest level in the NRL.”
After finishing the regular season in 8th, four wins from seven in the Super 8s saw Catalans finish above Hull FC in 7th at the end of the last campaign.
Baitieri says the Dragons will be pushing for a play-off spot in 2016 but acknowledges that finishing in the top-four will be more difficult than ever before.
“The top-four has been our objective for the last couple of years.
“It’s realistic but at the same time all the other teams in Super League have the same objective and have also recruited really well for this year so the competition is going to go up a notch.”