Catalans Dragons father and son are ready to make Super League history again


Joe Chan plays Toulouse in the first derby of the French Super League – 16 years after his father Alex featured in the Dragons’ historic first-ever league game

Catalans Dragons general manager Alex Chan and son Joe Chan

After watching his father make history for the Catalans Dragons, Joe Chan is doing the same tonight – before relaxing with car tinkering.

The talented 20-year-old from the back row plays Toulouse Olympique in the much-anticipated opening French Super League derby at the Stade Gilbert Brutus. He had just turned four when his father also performed for the Catalans at another famous night out in Perpignan. Ex-Melbourne Storm and New Zealand striker Alex Chan helped Les Dracs memorably beat Wigan 38-30 in their first Super League game in 2006.

Chan – who works part-time as a mechanic when he’s not helping oil the Dragons machine – said: “I vaguely remember a few games when my dad played here. I went to the field after the games and he picked me up. It was inspirational. He is still one of my great role models today. Growing up watching him play rugby drove me to it. And now we’re both looking forward to Toulouse. It will be great if we win this first French Super League derby – and the game itself is great for French rugby league.”

His father, who made 78 appearances for the Catalans from 2006-08, returned to the club from Australia in 2016 to become Dragons general manager. That also led to the family returning, and Chan made his debut last year after coming through the Dragons youth lineup. He has made his mark in Steve McNamara’s side, who are without Man of Steel Sam Tomkins, after breaking his leg in Saturday’s Challenge Cup defeat by St Helens.

“I’m learning every day and I have guys on the team who are very experienced,” said Chan. “But I also work part-time as a mechanic just to take my mind off football, so it’s not always just about football. I’ve always had an interest in cars and I like to get my hands dirty, so I figured why not? Footy is fun but injuries can happen and if it ended tomorrow what would I have to fall on? I train about 24 hours a week – and my dad sometimes tries to get me to do his car for free!”

Newly promoted Toulouse have only won once but that was against Champions Saints, so the Catalans know how dangerous they can be when the Rivals round of the Super League gets underway. Alex Chan added: “This could be really big for French rugby. It has all the qualities you need: we both have great sides, while Toulouse have some former Dragons players as well as their own homegrown players.

“The rivalry will be massive. It will be great. The build feels very, very similar to the Wigan game in 2006, which was fantastic. And as a father, I am very proud that Joe is involved in this project.”

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