Remi Casty believes Barcelona record shows how big Catalans can be

REMI Casty thought he had seen it all in his 13-year association with Catalans but even his eyes were opened by this Barca beating of Wigan.

And after adding to their ‘present’ to their fans after many found they could not get to Wembley, he believes this can be the start of something big.

The Dragons’ win at the Challenge Cup saw them asked to parade it around the Camp Nou and then invited to play at the iconic venue, the banners calling for Catalonia’s independence highlighted the feeling the occasion generated.

Winning was one thing, the record 31,555 attendance was quite another. Now as they may look to repeat their Barcelona trip next year, Casty feels rugby league’s traditional power base may be challenged.

The Catalans skipper, a Barcelona fan who watched from the terraces, said: “Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, so it was a great day for the crowd, Super League, rugby league in France and the area.

“It’s hard for fans to get to things like the Grand Final or the Challenge Cup final. Now we’ve showed everyone just how big we are. 31,000 is huge.

“Last year, the fans couldn’t spend too much money to get to Wembley, so coming to Barcelona was like a present for them.

"And I said to the players, ‘Enjoy it as we may never play in a stadium like this again.’ I never thought I’d appear here.

“There’s only been one rugby game before, the Top 14 Final, so that’s not the same as a ‘normal’ club game. I’d like to but I know this game would be hard to repeat.”

Casty, 34, insisted nothing had changed in terms of preparation from a normal league game, other than one or two players were a little more excited.

And on the biggest stage in front of the biggest crowd, it was apt that 6ft 5ins, 19-and-a-half stone man mountain Sam Kasiano changed it by scoring one try and creating another.

“It was unreal to follow greats like Messi and Suarez, so I was like, ‘Wow,” said the prop, who also saw David Mead score twice and Michael McIlorum and Samisoni Langi go over, while Tony Gigot booted six goals and a drop goal.

“That’s the best ground I’ve played in. I’ve been at Wembley, Old Trafford, ANZ in Sydney and Suncorp in Brisbane but this one takes the cup.”

While Perpignan-based Catalans celebrated, both the result on the field and the impact off it in its capital and sporting cathedral, Super League champions Wigan are licking their wounds.

And winger Liam Marshall admitted the occasion may have got to one or two of his team-mates.

The tryscorer, who also saw Zak Hardaker and Oliver Gildart go over, said: “Maybe the occasion got on top of some of the lads. It’s amazing to play at such a venue. When you come out for warm-ups, you’re switched on for the game but this was slightly different trying to soak everything in.

“We pinned this one as a game we needed to win but we disappointed ourselves. There’ll be some harsh words tomorrow when we review the game.

“But for the game as a whole, it’s brilliant we can take games to a venue like the Camp Nou. We’re moving forward and making strides – the more things like this that can be organised, it will only take the sport forward.”

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