Catalans Dragons experienced a quite awful 2017 season. After finishing in tenth position, the Dragons were consigned to the Middle 8s Qualifiers for the first time. However, they were - like Warrington - expected to come through the challenge with relative ease. It was not to be; a fifth-placed finish meant the French side would endure the Million-Pound Game away at Super League new boys Leigh Centurions. A 10-26 victory ensured their Super League survival, but, they will be wanting to improve drastically in 2018.

In recent seasons, Catalans have produced a number of rising French stars; Eloi Pelissier, Remi Casty, Thomas Bosc, Vincent Duport and Julian Baitieri were all part of the Dragons' youth team and have gone on to have glittering Super League careers. However, with a desire to avoid the Middle 8s once more in 2018, the Dragons will be looking towards a new star to inspire the French side to a top eight finish.

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Lucas Albert

The promising French half-back, Lucas Albert, was only given a professional contract in August 2015 aged just 17. And, in a move to fend off any would-be interest, Catalans offered Albert a five-year deal, which he went on to sign. Clearly then, the French club saw and sees Albert as a long-term solution to their current half-back problems.

Despite appearing just eight times for Catalans in 2017, the young Albert impressed and was one of the few bright sparks in what proved to be a woeful season on the whole for the Dragons. His lack of top-flight experience and youthful age failed to unnerve him and the half-back seemed to be more influential for Catalans when he took to the field than either of the two playmakers in front of him - Richie Myler and Luke Walsh.

Although debuting for the Dragons way back in July 2015, Albert has only 20 Super League appearances under his belt.

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However, with Thomas Bosc retiring at the end of last season and Richie Myler moving on to pastures new at Leeds Rhinos, Albert is likely to almost double this tally of appearances in 2018. At just 19 years of age, the half-back will have a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to strike up a formidable partnership with fellow half-back Luke Walsh for 2018.

Super League should expect to see Albert come of age in the upcoming season. With a confidence and self-belief that belies his teenage years, Albert could just be the tonic that the Dragons need if they are to finally fulfil their weighty expectations. #RugbyLeague #RL #CatalansDragons