Steve McNamara: Reaching Challenge Cup final is massive for French rugby league

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Catalans coach Steve McNamara said getting to Wembley is huge for the club who are still searching for their first major trophy.

The Dragons beat favourites St Helens 35-16 in the first semi-final of the double header at the University of Bolton Stadium on Sunday.

And with Catalans still looking for their first piece of major silverware since their birth in 2000, McNamara said their semi-final win is huge for the sport in France.

He said: “We have gone from being in the Million Pound Game last year to reaching the Challenge Cup final this year.

“We secured our spot in the top-eight a couple of weeks ago and now we are going to Wembley. It’s massive for us.

“It is great for our organisation and it is great for French rugby league. We are still a club that hasn’t won a trophy, whether that be the Super League trophy or the Challenge Cup, so to be part of that would be amazing for all involved.

“It has been a true team effort to get to this stage from where we were last year. We will go to Wembley and we will be ready to play, there is no doubt about that.”

France international Tony Gigot was suspended for two years for an ‘inappropriate exchange’ with an anti-doping official last year, but Gigot won his appeal against the ban earlier this year and re-signed for the Dragons in February.

Gigot picked up the man of the match award in the semi-final and McMamara was delighted for the full-back.

He said: “He has suffered particularly badly over a period of time for one reason and another, but he has changed his whole mindset and has applied a lot of changes to himself personally off the field and it is showing on the field.

“I think he got man of the match by the looks of it and he thoroughly deserved it.

“The players are absolutely shattered, they were out on their feet at the end of the game. It was a really difficult game for us.

“We were brilliant in the first half. We were really good and we were physical. We couldn’t afford to let Saints come at us otherwise we would have been in all sorts of trouble. We have been improving every week and I’m pleased that we took our opportunities and it wasn’t easy.”

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