Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara says his players’ biggest focus in pre-season has been to ensure they don’t crack under pressure.
McNamara saw his side completely capitulate on several occasions last season and they ended the year with a woeful run of five straight defeats.
Les Dracs lost by 20 points or more on eight occasions last season, a figure McNamara knows he has to change.
“We just need to be involved in closer games,” he said.
“We had some incredible wins and huge highs but very big lows as well. The size of some of our defeats hurt the group and the team. We know we need to play in a way that will get us in games and keep us in games.”
When asked how you can coach that, he said: “It’s a whole host of things. It goes right from your junior setup, that’s where you establish an identity through your club and it filters through.
“We went some way towards that in 2018, particularly in the second half of the year when we were hard to beat and when we lost it was close.
“It became a habit for us, but if you haven’t done them for long enough and those habits can drop off. We have to get back to that during those periods where we’re struggling. Every successful team will tell you that.”
McNamara also confirmed that he did not anticipate any further additions to his squad after signing Toulouse duo Jordan Dezaria and Gavin Marguerite last week.
The Dragons also confirmed the departure of Matty Smith last week after just one year with the club.
“It was agreed mutually,” he said.
“Sometimes it just happens. A player fits a club and a club fits a player, but unfortunately, that has not been the case.”
In other news from Perpignan, Mickael Goudemand will miss the start of next season following a decision to have further surgery on a long-standing finger injury that plagued the 23-year-old forward throughout the second-half of 2019.
The French international badly dislocated his finger while playing in May and has been advised by surgeons in Montpellier that he will need an operation to repair the damaged digit and recovery time will prevent him from playing until March.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Goudemand.
“It has been causing me problems for too long now and hopefully this operation will be the end of it.”
The Dragons are staying tight-lipped on reports that 27-year-old Fiji international Brayden Wiliame will be leaving the club at the end of next season.
Sources in Australia have revealed that the 27-year-old centre has agreed to join St George Illawarra after three seasons in the south of France. Wiliame has previously played in the NRL for Parramatta and Manly.
The Dragons are keeping an eye on the future intentions of PNG star David Mead, whose contract is also up at the end of 2020.
© League Express (Mon 9th Dec 2019)