Adrian Lam's instructions to full-back Zak Hardaker
Adrian Lam wants Zak Hardaker to focus on himself tomorrow – and not his full-back duel with Sam Tomkins.
Hardaker is back in his favoured No.1 role for the trip to Catalans following a hamstring injury to Bevan French.
He has started the last two matches on the wing since his error-littered display in the Challenge Cup loss to Hull FC, which he admitted “wasn’t good enough at all”.
Hardaker had previously declared his ambition to claim the England full-back role. And given national coach Shaun Wane has already admitted Tomkins is in pole position for that World Cup shirt, it makes their match-up in Perpignan particularly intriguing if the Dragons man returns from injury as expected.
“I think Zak just needs to focus on Zak,” said Lam.
“The match-up is mouthwatering but I need Zak to do a great job for the club and respond from the last time he played there.
“He wasn’t happy with his past performance (at full-back) and as any player, you want to get back out there to do that.
“Zak has an opportunity at full-back, he’s been wanting to get back there since the Hull game to put right what was wrong there. I’m sure he’ll play well for us this weekend.”
Lam added: “Sam didn’t play last weekend, but we think he’ll play.”
Catalans have lost just one of their Super League matches this term, meaning they can go level with unbeaten Wigan with victory tomorrow (5pm kick-off, Sky Sports).
“They have been outstanding, they have former Wigan players who know more than anyone how we play,” said Lam, who guided the Warriors to an impressive 28-12 victory at Catalans last September.
“Getting the win last year turned the season for us. We don’t want to look at this as a game when we’ve got a few sore bodies - we want to go there, get the job done and stay in top spot.
“As a team they look well connected, they look like if you make errors against them it’s a long night. We have been making errors and if we do that we’re going to get hurt.
“They back themselves at home, it’s a difficult time to go there in the same day and they’re using that in their favour. They could be equal top after this week.”
Australian import James Maloney has been a key figure in their strong start, which saw them topple St Helens at home last week.
Lam, the Kangaroos assistant coach, has worked with the ex-Sydney Roosters playmaker in the representative squad.
“I know James, he’s hard work - if there was a representative Australian side for talking, he’d be in there,” he joked. “But he’s good value, he’s good fun, he’s popular. Annoying but popular.”