Mid-season squad disruption is a price worth paying for the sake of the international game, according to Catalans and former England coach Steve McNamara.
The Dragons chief had seen two of his star players remain in England following the national team’s clash with the Combined Nations All Stars on Friday, but he isn’t complaining as he prepares his table-topping team for Thursday’s Super League match at Huddersfield.
“Sam Tomkins and Tom Davies will be staying in England and linking up with us for the Giants game,” said ex-Huddersfield player McNamara.
“They are both very sensible and they know exactly what to do to stay safe and keep Covid secure.
“It’s not ideal, but we’re not living in an ideal world at the moment and I’m very proud of the effort and the commitment shown by these two players to take part in Friday’s international.”
Tomkins and Davies drove from the south of France to join the England squad, with the full backing of their coach.
McNamara added: “It’s very clear that they were very proud to play for England and I was delighted when Sam was made captain of his country.
“For a French club to have the England captain in its ranks it’s also a very proud moment for Catalans Dragons.”
McNamara said the All Stars match had been a worthwhile fixture, adding: “They are always tough games against Exiles or All Stars, I’ve been involved with them as England coach myself.
“These kind of matches are always close and they can go either way, it’s just unfortunate for England they ended up on the wrong side of a tight scoreline, but it’s great experience for all involved.”
While he may be a big fan of the international game, McNamara admitted he is looking forward to a settled period for his squad.
He added: “We’ve got double commitments here at Catalans with a lot of our players joining up with the French national training group recently, but thankfully there’s nothing immediate on the French calendar, or the England one either.
“We’ll use the next few days to look at our players, Micky McIlorum is almost recovered from his sprained ankle and Ben Garcia (groin) shouldn’t be too far away from returning.
“Alrix Da Costa took a bad knock to the face at Castleford and couldn’t return because of concussion protocols. Thankfully it doesn’t seem too serious so he should be back with us very soon.”
Meanwhile, Catalans football manager Alex Chan is in discussions with Israel Folau regarding his potential release from his contract.
Folau is contracted, and registered, as a Catalans player until the end of November 2021 but the controversial dual-code Aussie international is seeking permission to play for Southport Tigers in the Queensland League.
The Dragons allowed Folau to return home in January to deal with a family illness but since then the player has teamed up with billionaire Australian politician Clive Palmer in an attempt to resume playing in Australia, with reports in Australia suggesting that an agreement has been reached for the release of Folau.
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