A man who is aware of the difficulties currently surrounding Catalans Dragons on the field, Jodie Broughton has the vast experience that teams often need to get away from the bottom echelons of the league. Nearing 200 career appearances at the age of 30, the Leeds born winger has a scoring record better than one-in-two which, to say he hasn’t played regularly for ‘top’ teams as of yet, is no mean feat. He is, however, aware he can still improve over the course of this campaign. “I want to get back to playing my best rugby and doing so consistently,” he revealed, further adding that the Dragons’ aims for this season have changed slightly but they are still aiming to finish above the bottom four in Super League. “We as a club are still aiming to make the top eight and not be involved in the Middle 8s and all the added pressure that comes with it,” he explained and it is understandable – the Dragons stayed up via the Million Pound Game last year and are rather keen to avoid the same fate this season.
When Broughton kindly spoke to Get ’em Onside recently, he revealed perhaps a key reason for the struggles Catalans have been blighted by thus far in 2018. “I think one of the factors being that we had around 17 players in the World Cup and they didn’t really get a pre season in before the season started so we haven’t been in sync from the start,” he revealed, keen to make plain that this wasn’t an excuse. The Leeds Rhinos junior added that “it has been difficult so far this season, we seem to have the team there on paper but not always in the field. We have shown glimpses of outstanding rugby in certain matches but not for long enough.” One of those games in particular would be the recent clash in Perpignan between the Dragons and Wigan Warriors which saw the Dragons 15-0 up at half time and, on 51 minutes, 23-4. The hosts went on to lose the game 23-32, shipping 28 points in less than half an hour to leave them with just two Super League wins to their name in 2018 against Hull KR and Huddersfield, both at home.
Perhaps one of the reasons that it is at home where the Dragons have recorded their Super League successes and, indeed, that an away trip to Catalans has long been viewed as one of the trickier tests throughout a campaign is down to the fervent support of the fans. While it is sometimes tricky to notice on the Sky Sports coverage, Broughton confirmed the impact of the fans on the team. “The fans are really passionate, they really take rugby to their heart as there is a lot of history involved in it. There is a huge rivalry is this region with rugby league and union,” he explained and that rivalry has only been stoked further recently after a local rugby union official stated that he hoped for the destruction of rugby league in the region. Broughton also explained that “a lot of the older generation grew up watching their parents play rugby in the region and you can see within the stadium the amount of photos and historical ornaments there are on display.” Sometimes a team that fans struggle to understand in the UK and where some suggest that the club is just an expansion club in an area with little history, it is interesting to hear of the winger’s view and awareness of the pedigree of rugby league in Southern France.
Having originally arrived at the Dragons for the start of the 2016 campaign, months into his original two year deal Broughton signed an extension which, if he sees through till the end, will have left the former Salford flyer with four years under his belt with Catalans. Speaking of his time in the country, Broughton explained “I love it here in France but there are some big cultural differences. Here it is much more relaxed than in the UK and not many things are rushed; the most important thing is family and well being! Perhaps those in the UK could take a leaf out of the French book in this area.” With that lifestyle being prevalent, it is perhaps no wonder that many UK based Super League players have headed over to the French outfit for a few years and the likes of Richie Myler will have had a rude awakening when returning to England from France to sign for Leeds. Despite having settled well into life in the country, Broughton confessed to his pretty average knowledge of the French language. “I’ve been learning it but it’s difficult, you get the basics and then the language changed when it comes to the tenses (past and future) so sometimes that’s difficult. I imagine I speak French like Borat speaks English!” the former England Knight joked.
Speaking of his time in the game, Broughton is clear in the belief that current Catalans coach Steve McNamara has the necessary tools to guide the Dragons out of the trouble they currently find themselves in, confirming his belief that he has “brilliant technical knowledge.” He also attributed that quality to coach Kieran Purtill who he played under earlier in his career while describing his former Salford Red Devils boss Phil Veivers as a man who “could get the best out of me on a personal level.” Perhaps that quality is what lead to Broughton revealing that his time under Veivers in Lancashire as his most enjoyable time in rugby league. “It was my first professional full time contract, the facilities weren’t up to much but we had a great team spirit and played some good rugby at times. We always enjoyed our time on and off the field and the fans were passionate too. When we got a win against a big club like Warrington or another local team the fans would blow the roof off the stadium”.
At the Dragons hard-fought Challenge Cup victory over York City Knights, Broughton was able to cross for a try in front a family member who had a microphone in his hand for the game in the shape of Jamie Jones-Buchanan. The Leeds Rhinos forward passed 400 appearances last week against Hull FC and Broughton paid tribute to his half-brother, saying “he has had an outstanding career and won everything there is to win at domestic level. If I could achieve just some of what he has I would retire a happy man.”
A tweet shared by Broughton yesterday following their victory over the Knights demonstrated how much of a rugby league man he is and, also, the fact he is a down-to-earth man who is aware of how lucky he is to be playing the sport so many of us love on a weekly basis and Get ’em Onside is aware that we are lucky enough to have been able to get in contact with him!