McNamara shrugs off Catalans pre-season disadvantage

Catalans coach Steve McNamara won’t be using the Dragons’ delayed pre-season as an excuse when they kick-off their Super League season at Widnes on Sunday.

The Dragons had 16 players at the World Cup, more than any other team, which meant McNamara was left with a skeleton squad until the New Year.

Even recruitment was late too, with David Mead and Michael McIlorum, two other players who had featured at the World Cup, only penning deals either side of Christmas.

He said: “It came together late but we weren’t in a rush.

“Our pre-season was never going to be normal because of the World Cup.

“We spent most of our time in the off-season concentrating on our young French players and making sure we can get improvements out of them to add more depth to our group.

“We welcomed the World Cup players back in January, but there was no rush for me in terms of recruitment.

“To get David and Michael in was really good and now the real hard work starts trying to get that whole group back together looking like a team.

“I’m not sure if the delayed pre-season is going to hurt us. We’ve done as much as we can with what we’ve got and we will continually improve as the season unfolds.

“Hopefully we can start good and give us that starting point to improve.”

McNamara led Catalans to safety in Super League via the drama of the Million Pound Game, having succeeded Laurent Frayssinous midway through last season.

The Dragons failed to beat Widnes at all in 2017, drawing and losing at home, and also going down 26-6 at the Halton Stadium.

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