SAS chasing glory
Dragons stars quick to highlight Robinson factor
Last Updated: 22/09/11 8:40am
Catalans Dragons go into their Super League play-off eliminator with Wigan Warriors on Friday as the surprise package of the season.
The Perpignan-based club finished bottom of the competition last year but have enjoyed a revolution under coach Trent Robinson, who took over the reins from Kevin Walters ahead of the 2011 season.
The French-speaking Australian recruited veteran loose forward Steve Menzies and nippy half-back Scott Dureau as the focal points of a new-look Dragons side, and the pair have flourished with the club storming into the play-off picture.
Menzies, 37, was picked up having been released by the Bradford Bulls at the end of the last campaign while Dureau, 25, worked under Robinson at Newcastle Knights before making the switch to southern France.
Dureau, who has formed a partnership with Menzies now known as the S.A.S, said of his team-mate: "He's a 37-year-old who thinks he's still 25. He's young at heart - that's the best way I can describe him. He loves hanging with the boys and is still like a 25-year-old. It keeps him young on the field and he doesn't care what age he is."
Menzies was quick to return the compliment to his Australian compatriot, adding: "He's one of those tough little organisers. He's got a good kicking game and he's got five field goals for us - that's probably five games you win when an individual skill comes out. He's just been great for us. The more he can control the game the better we go."
While the pair's leadership skills have been crucial to the Dragons' success, Robinson's ability to bring together players from different backgrounds has been equally impressive.
Their ruthless 56-6 hammering of Hull KR featured a brace of tries for Menzies and eight goals for Dureau - proving the increasing unity within Robinson's squad in the process.
Dureau said of Robinson: "Trent called me and said he wanted me to be his number one half-back and that really appealed to me. I was in and out of first grade in the NRL and he told me I'd be the one out here.
"I knew the way Trent worked from working with him at Newcastle and he had big plans for this club. He's done a fantastic job at this club already bringing in eight new players and getting them to gel - French, Australian, New Zealanders, it doesn't matter! It works somehow."
Robinson's first post was as coach of Toulouse Olympique in 2005 but he quickly moved up to an assistant role in the big time with Newcastle Knights.
He then switched to the Sydney Roosters, where his defence coaching helped the club reach the 2010 Grand Final, but Robinson felt ready for a top job of his own and jumped at the chance to use his fluent French and take over at the struggling Catalans.
With history beckoning for the underdogs, Steve Menzies has tipped Robinson for a huge future as a coach in the game.
Menzies said: "He's got great knowledge of rugby league. It's a really good style of rugby league to play. I think he's got a big future as a coach - he's one of the best coaches I've worked under in my career. On the field and off the field the structures he's put in place has been invaluable.
"It probably took us the first seven weeks to learn the structures and the style because there were so many new players. Now, when we're playing our best and defending well, we can compete with the best sides. It was a real key factor in our season."