McNamara praises house-bound Dragons

Steve McNamara has outlined what life in lock-downed France is like, with the Catalans uncertain when they will be able to train together again.

The country is currently in the middle of a nationwide lock down that started at midday on Tuesday and is set to run until at least April 1.

That means McNamara and the Dragons squad can only leave their homes to buy food, visit the pharmacy, for physical exercise in the vicinity of their houses or in a family emergency.

Failure to provide the relevant documentation for such trips results in a first-time fine of €35 and €135 thereafter, and the local area has also now been given a total curfew from 8pm until 6am.

McNamara has been trying to keep some form of unity in his squad but admits it has not been easy.

He explained: “The players have been doing ‘prison style’ training in their backyards or at the front of their houses.

“Before the lockdown Jason Baitieri took a tackle bag home and has been doing circuits with that in it.

“The boys have been inventive and there’s a daily challenge put out there by the strength and conditioning staff

“They can be done no matter what size or space you’ve got and everybody posts their best times and scores.

“It creates competition within the group, but the hard thing is we’re not able to treat any of our injured players.

“It is 15 days of confinement, which takes us to April 1, but there’s already been talk of extending it.

“Even if we do get back on April 1 we won’t be allowed in groups of ten until April 15, so we can’t train as a team until then. And that’s the best-case scenario.”

McNamara says the situation is unlike anything he has experienced before.

He said: “It was really bizarre when the last hour before the lockdown kicked in at midday on Tuesday.

“It was sad in a way – I drove past a pharmacy and all the older people were queuing up outside for their regular medicine.

“It felt like the last half-hour of everyone’s lives; it was a very surreal and unique feeling.

“Everybody was wandering around at 12 o’clock and then everybody disappeared.

“It’s something we’ve never experienced before, but at the same time it allows you to really reflect on what you’ve got.

“We’ve all had a number of years where we’ve been fortunate in so many areas.

“What’s happening now is not nice, but hopefully everyone can work together and get rid of it as quickly as we can.

“It gives you the time to sit and reflect, read and study – whatever you want to do.

“People before us have gone through the wars and everything that went with that, and hopefully this brings the best out of people and, when it’s over, we’ll all be more grateful for things.”

McNamara has used the time to improve his own French language skills, even addressing Dragons supporters in the language via the club’s Twitter account last week.

He says club Chairman Bernard Guasch has offered assurances to players and staff about their wages at the club, and admits a level of frustration at being unable to build on a recent run of three straight Super League wins.

McNamara added: “It’s been the most bizarre start to the season for us.

“It started not performing well in round one, and getting three back-to-back wins after that was really important for us.

“We’ve been punctuated with a weekend off for the World Club Challenge and the storm in England.

“It’s been hard to find our rhythm but I’ve been really pleased with the response after round one when we didn’t get it right.

“To come back and knock off three wins has been good and there have definitely been glimpses of what we can do there.

“Castleford at home was our best performance and then in the last two games against Hull and Salford we’ve found a way to win.

“We were a long way behind against Hull and managed to claw our way back into it. And against Salford we were in complete control but then lost momentum massively.

“To deal with that and regain our composure in the last seven or eight minutes was really pleasing – they have been two really good lessons for us.”