Catalans plan on May return

May the fourth be with you… while Super League is currently caught up in scenes similar to a sci-fi movie plot, how apt it is that Catalans Dragons have set a Star Wars -type date for the resumption of training.
Coach Steve McNamara feels it is important to give his players a fixed target as they prepare to re-start the season and May 4th has been selected.
McNamara told League Express: “If the Super League season can get up and running in June, which is the earliest possible start we have at the moment, then we’ll be back on May 4th to start training for a month and get ready for the season.
“That’s the plan. It gives us as much clarity as we can have at this stage. If that date moves backwards because of the circumstances we will do that, but we thought it was really important to give the playing group something to focus on and to aim at, and they can tailor their individual programmes towards getting back for a month-long pre-season starting on May the fourth.
“If it is that date and we’re all allowed back in together as a whole group, then that’s the best-case scenario. If it’s only small groups that are allowed to train together then we’ll invite the players who are immediately around us back first.
“France is a big country and a lot of our players live in different parts of it, they are currently with their families, as are a couple of players who have returned to England. We’ve got a big spread, but if we can all get back together on May 4th that would give us the right period of time to prepare for a June re-start.”
Catalans were the first club to fall foul of the virus with their last scheduled fixture – at home behind closed doors to Leeds Rhinos – called off at the last minute and Dragons players were the first to feel the effects of quarantine and isolation as the French government introduced sweeping measures to control movement in an attempt to thwart the Coronavirus.
McNamara said he was pleased with the way his players had responded to the crisis.
“It’s going as good as it can do,” he said.
“There is nothing anyone can do about the situation apart from listen to government advice and stay away from as many people as you can, stay isolated or in quarantine, whatever your circumstances may be.
“The players are trying to stay as fit and healthy as they can.
“Everybody has their own personal circumstances and we are in constant contact with our players and staff to make sure everybody’s okay. If anybody needs any extra support then they will receive it.”
McNamara paid tribute to club President Bernard Guasch, who has pledged to do everything he can to keep paying his players and staff during the suspended season.
The Dragons coach said: “Bernard has consistently assured the players and the staff. He is working overtime to make sure that the club, the players and staff are in as healthy a position as possible financially and everyone appreciates that from him.
“His dialogue with the players and staff has been constant and he hasn’t left anybody guessing.”
With players undertaking home training programmes, the Dragons have allowed some players to leave France for family reasons.
“We’ve got a couple of boys who have returned back to England for their own personal reasons,” said McNamara.
“We are very supportive of that and we’ve seen some of the French Super League players who are based in England returning to be with their families in France.
“It’s a lot easier between France and England as the countries are so close to each other, but it’s a different scenario for our players from down under.”
McNamara said no squad member had presented symptoms of the virus but they were being constantly monitored.
“The most important thing is their health and well-being and players have stayed up until now reasonably fit and healthy, but we have been in that period of confinement for more than two weeks now, so I’m led to believe on medical advice that if anyone was to start showing symptoms it would be around about now. So far so good, but we’ll see what the next seven days will bring.”
In other news from across the Channel, French Federation President Marc Palanques has indicated that he will not be seeking re-election this year and the FFRXIII will appoint a new leader for the game in the run-up to next year’s World Cup.
Palanques was involved in a bitter war of words with French national skipper Jason Baitieri, who walked out on last year’s World Nines tournament in Australia after accusing the French governing body of “a lack of professionalism.”