Daryl Millard: Pressure off Catalan Dragons in Super League play-offs

Daryl Millard
Millard's Catalans won away from home at Leeds and Huddersfield to qualify for the semi-finals
Super League play-off semi-final
St Helens v Catalan Dragons
Venue: Langtree Park Date: Thursday, 2 October Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC 5 Live sports extra, BBC Radio Merseyside and highlights on BBC Two at 17:05 BST on Sunday.

Fiji winger Daryl Millard says a lack of pressure has helped Catalan Dragons progress to the last four of the Super League play-offs.

Laurent Frayssinous' side ended the regular season in seventh and were long odds to be outright winners.

But play-off victories at Leeds and then Huddersfield moved Catalans within 80 minutes of a first Grand Final.

"That's one of the advantages we do have - we don't have that much pressure on us," Millard told BBC Sport.

"We're enjoying what we're doing, we've all got our jobs to do and if we're doing our job we'll be in with a shout in the game."

The bookmakers still have Catalans as long as 11-1 to win the Grand Final, perhaps with good reason as League Leaders' Shield winners St Helens provide the opposition at Langtree Park in their semi-final.

Daryl Millard, Michael Oldfield and Zeb Taia have been key parts of the Catalans squad
Millard (left), Oldfield and Zeb Taia form part of a powerful attacking threat for the Dragons

Nathan Brown's Saints demolished Castleford 41-0 in their play-off opener to secure a week off, despite ending the 27-round campaign with back-to-back defeats.

"They've built momentum at the right time of the season and they're playing to their strengths with James Roby around the middle of the ruck where they've been really good," Millard continued.

"We're not thinking it's going to be easy, they finished first and we know we're in for a really tough battle and we'll have to play really well to progress."

The most surprising thing about Catalans' resurgence has been their away form, winning half as many games on their travels in the knock-out rounds as they did all season.

One of the keys has been a settled half-back pairing in Sam Williams and Thomas Bosc, as well as a destructive back five of Millard, Michael Oldfield, Ben Pomeroy, Vincent Duport and Morgan Escare that has scored 74 tries between them.

"It's a big part of our strengths with the outside backs playing combative, our two centres play like back-rowers, and Michael Oldfield has been playing really well over the last few weeks," the ex-Wakefield winger said.

Millard's Grand Final dream
"It's hard to say as I've never played in one," Millard said when asked about the prospect of playing in a Super League Grand Final."But as you get older you appreciate these things more and I appreciate the position we're in as a player, it's an awesome time."If I was to get there it'll be the best achievement of my career."

"Sam Williams has been playing well and getting us around the park and we're all comfortable with what we want to do. We've been completing our sets pretty well and working really hard on the little things like kick-chase that make a lot of difference.

"That's built up a really good feeling that we've all bought into and I suppose that's what's important in rugby league."

Catalans supporters have become well acquainted with play-off football under former coach Trent Robinson and successor Frayssinous, but have to go back to 2009 for their last semi-final appearance.

Fans turned out at Perpignan Airport to welcome back the players after their success at Huddersfield, as "Les Dracs"' feats captured the imagination of the city.

"I've been here for four years and I never expected it to be this good," Millard said.

"It's really awesome around town when people are stopping you, really excited and wishing you well and thanking us. They're really good supporters. It's a good feeling around Perpignan at the moment."

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