Steve McNamara: Our reserves team has benefited us this year

Catalans coach Steve McNamara said their reserve team has allowed them to bring through a crop of promising French talent this season.

With an eye on their Challenge Cup semi-final against St Helens next week, McNamara rested seven of his first team regulars and gave chances to academy products Lucas Albert, Alrix Da Costa and Mickael Goudemand on Friday night.

The young Dragons stood up well to Wigan Warriors but they fell short to a narrow 25-20 defeat at the DW Stadium.

And McNamara heaped praise on the club’s reserves for allowing them to bring through promising French talent.

He said: “The way the French lads have applied themselves this year and the way they are improving is great.

“Lucas Albert, Alrix Da Costa, Fouad Yaha and Antoni Maria were great for us and there is a lot of young French talent in our team.

“I know the reserves system is a big topic of conversation in England, but we have a reserve team that plays in the French Championship and the season finished around a month ago, but the players who played against Wigan actually played in that league for most of the season and they have done extremely well.

“They got their chances in Super League and they looked comfortable out there. All of our French players must get a special mention. A lot of the boys that we threw in there hadn’t played in six or seven weeks so it was an incredible effort.”

After a rough start to the season, Catalans turned their fortunes around and have already secured their Super League status for 2019.

And with the club in a Challenge Cup semi-final next week, McNamara says the Dragons are on the rise.

He added: “I think our recent performances have made people sit up and take a little bit of notice in us and our form has certainly put some proud back into the Catalans area and us as a club, so we are happy with that.

“We want to build a really strong club and to do that, we need to recruit well from overseas and we need to add some English additions but the core of our squad will always come from France.

“This club in its young existence hasn’t won a trophy and we want to be the first group to do that.

“We have got a formidable task in front of us next week against St Helens and we know that we are the underdogs, so we will try to get prepared the best we can and give it our best shot.”

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