Catalans vs Salford: Dragons forward Gil Dudson relishing Red Devils clash
Watch Catalans Dragons take on Salford Red Devils, Saturday, live on Sky Sports Arena from 4.55pm
Last Updated: 17/04/21 4:59pm
Catalans Dragons forward recruit Gil Dudson is finally settling into life in the south of France after an eventful start as he grappled with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 30-year-old Wales international, who joined the Perpignan club on a two-year deal from Salford at the end of last season, caught Covid-19 in his first week in the country, which has entered a third national lockdown, and then sustained a minor knee injury that forced him to miss the opening game.
However, Dudson made his bow in the Dragons' win over Huddersfield in round two and, after scoring his first try in last Saturday's Challenge Cup victory over Wakefield, he will make his home debut when his old club Salford visit Stade
Gilbert Brutus on Saturday.
"I'm settling in pretty good at the minute," said the former Widnes and Wigan front rower, who moved to France with his wife and three children.
"Opportunities in life don't always come along, to experience a different country and a different culture, and it was one I couldn't really turn down."
Dudson was forced to train on his own as the country battled with increasing Covid-19 infection rates and he was forced to wait to meet his new team-mates.
"We didn't actually get together until a couple of weeks before the season started so it was a real disjointed pre-season," he said.
"It was probably more disjointed for me than most because I got Covid the first week and had to go into isolation.
"We didn't have any massive symptoms, it was just sod's law. I'd been fine all the year in the UK and played the whole season and ended up getting Covid the first week here.
"Then I picked up a knock and had to have a bit of a clean-out so I missed quite a bit of training.
"But I'm happy with the way things are at the minute."
Dudson and second rower Mike McMeeken were signed to add experience to the Catalans' pack following the departure of a host of senior forwards, including skipper Remi Casty.
"We lost quite a few of the older heads and, having been around a bit, it's been up to me and Jules (Bousquet) to us to step up and lay that platform every week," Dudson added.
"We've managed to get the wins so far and hopefully we can keep that going and continue to get better."
The return of hooker Michael McIlorum from a six-match ban carried over from last season adds experience to the Catalans' pack, while Salford have half-back Kevin Brown and loose forward Elijah Taylor back from suspension and injury respectively and full-back Morgan Escare faces his old club.
📋 𝐒𝐐𝐔𝐀𝐃 𝐍𝐄𝐖𝐒— Salford Red Devils 👹 (@SalfordDevils) April 15, 2021
👥 Richard Marshall has selected his 21-man squad for Saturday's trip to Perpignan!
👀 Elijah Taylor is one game away from reaching 200 career appearances and Kallum Watkins needs two more tries to reach 150 in his career.
💪 #TogetherStronger pic.twitter.com/urtcaZJXmy
Dudson is expecting a difficult test against Salford, for whom he made 46 appearances in two seasons, including the 2019 Grand Final and last year's Challenge Cup final.
"It's going to be a tough game," he said. "They've got a new coach and the majority of the lads were playing in the Challenge Cup final last year.
"They have quality throughout the team. I think it will be a good challenge for us. And it will be nice to catch up with a few of the lads."
After flying in and out of England for the first three weeks of the season, the Dragons finally get the chance to play at home, for which Dudson is especially grateful.
"The travel has its own challenges on top of everything else so it will be nice not to have to get on two flights in a short period and be able to be at home, as you would on a normal game day," he said.
"I'm sure my wife will be happy she's not on her own with the kids all day."