Zeb Taia wary of Catalans
St Helens travel to Perpignan (Live on Sky Sports)
The Dragons conceded seven tries to the Warriors last Sunday as they were nilled for the second time in four matches but Taia, who spent three seasons with Catalans from 2013-15, expects them to raise their game for the visit of the unbeaten Betfred Super League leaders.
“I loved every minute at Catalans,” said Taia. “I had three good seasons there and, although results didn’t always come our way, we were definitely a good team at home, that’s for sure.
“That’s what we’re expecting this week. I’m not looking too much into their result from last week, I know they’re definitely going to be a good team come Saturday.”
Saints and neighbours Warrington Wolves are threatening to pull away at the top of the table and their derby clash at the Totally Wicked Stadium next Friday is looming large as the biggest match of the season so far.
However, Taia insists there is no chance of the Saints players taking their eye off the ball on Saturday.
“We don’t look too far ahead,” he said. “We know it’s there but we’re just concentrating on this game. This game is a tough game for us.
“They’re a big physical team with a hostile crowd at the same time. We need to play our footy.”
Taia is one of four players returning for the table-toppers but they have suffered a blow with the loss of in-form French half-back Theo Fages.
That will pave the way for Danny Richardson, back from a dual-registration stint with Leigh Centurions, to make his first appearance of the season against former St Helens scrum-half Matty Smith and Taia admits he is a handy replacement.
“It’s a massive loss to us,” said Taia, who missed the win over London Broncos as his wife Nikki gave birth to their third daughter, Lola. “Poor Theo probably wanted to go back and play in his country and play against a lot of his mates but at the same time we’ve got a good fill-in there with Danny Richardson. He’ll do a job for us.”
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Taia’s initial three-year contract with St Helens runs out at the end of this season but he says he is not yet ready to hang up his boots.
“I’ve made it aware to the club that I want to go on for one more season and hopefully that’s at Saints,” he said.
“They know where I stand, it’s a matter of just waiting to hear from them. I’ll let my footy do the talking and hopefully it all gets sorted out in the next couple of weeks or so.
“I feel as though I’ve been consistent. I’m happy with my form but you can always do better and that’s what I’m looking at.”