Catalans Dragons’ Steve McNamara not getting carried away after stunning win

Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara faces a “difficult week” as he prepares his team to tackle Wigan Warriors on Saturday in Perpignan.

With a host of senior players returning from injury and suspension the Dragons’ chief admits he has a selection dilemma following the “excellent performance” of several young French players during Friday night’s 18-24 victory over Warrington Wolves.

McNamara told League Express, “Gil Dudson and Michael McIlorum will be back from suspension and we’re hoping to have Dean Whare back too, so we’ll be in a much healthier position squad-wise.

“The problem for me is that I now have some big calls to make on selection.”

Catalans were without fullback Sam Tomkins against Warrington and McNamara revealed that it was head-injury assessment protocols that kept him on the sidelines.

He added, “Sam had a sore knee going into the game at Leeds and he limped out of a tackle just before half-time, but as he came out for the second half he felt he had a concussion, so there was a great call from our medical team to get him off and treat him correctly.

“The new protocols meant he couldn’t play at Warrington and it’s important to be as safe as possible in those situations.

“Sam, and also Joe Chan, will be clear of the concussion protocols and available for selection against Wigan.”

McNamara said there was a “special relationship” between Catalans and Wigan and there was always a buzz in Perpignan when the Warriors are in town.

He added, “Wigan are in France for a full week, playing Toulouse and then us, which is a good thing.

“There is a massive mutual respect between the two clubs, which has been very clear since the day I got here.

“Ian Lenagan, Kris Radlinski and the coaching staff and the players seem to have a healthy relationship with us.

“We totally respect their club; the consistency of success that Wigan have achieved for over a hundred years is there for all to see.

“And I think they appreciate the newness and the innovation that we have brought into the competition.

“Catalans v Wigan is always a really good fixture and one that both teams are looking forward to.”

McNamara is refusing to get “carried away” with his under-strength side’s impressive performance at Warrington and he insists his squad will continue to improve.

He added, “It’s a continuation process and I don’t want us to get too high about it.

“It was a good performance with lots of grit and determination and this is what we are constantly striving to do.

“Given the circumstances, with the players we had out, that makes the performance and result a little more special but again, we won’t get carried away.

“We had a difficult five-day turnaround from Wakefield into Leeds, we had a horrendous trip back and we were late starting the week’s preparations. We weren’t quite sure with suspensions and concussions.

“But I could feel as the week went on that the players were confident; their energy was outstanding and that transferred into a really disciplined performance. It wasn’t perfect and we’re working every week on improvements.

“Josh Drinkwater and Mitchell Pearce are clearly developing their partnership; Mitch had over seventy touches on the ball and he’s started to look and feel way more comfortable living and playing in France.

“Drinky has come up with a couple of special plays, which he’s been doing that for a long time for us.

“It was a good night for the French and for national coach Laurent Frayssinous, who was watching the game. Some of those younger French boys who were up against some of the strongest opposition in the competition can really hold their heads up high.

“We’ve got some bumps and bruises from the game but we’ve got three days off now and we need it.

“We’ve had three trips to England out of our four games so far and we’ve had some real battles, so we need a three-day recovery. Then we’ll get back in to prep for the Wigan match.”

McNamara provided an update on long-term casualty Arthur Mourgue, who is expected to return to action in four weeks’ time.

He said, “Arthur is bang on schedule with his recovery, it’s a ten-to-12-week ankle injury and he’s back now with his boot off and we’ll work with him to ensure he’s fit again as soon as possible.

“He’s a very fit and strong athlete and we’ve got every confidence he will be one hundred per cent again.”

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