McNamara wants six again in play-offs

Super League should go six-again, according to Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara, who believes this season’s play-offs should be the blueprint for next year.

The former England chief says last week’s first round of knockout games is a winning formula which would keep supporters “engaged and excited” throughout the entire campaign.

“I think the top six is the way forward for a 12-team competition,” he told League Express.

“It gives the better teams that are very consistent and finish first and second the reward of a week off, but it also gives teams like Hull FC this year who had serious difficulties at the start, yet have managed to scrap their way into the play-offs, a genuine chance of winning this competition.”

Conscious of the financial impact of Covid-19 on clubs, McNamara said it was essential that every step is now taken to bring supporters back through the gates next season.

He added, “It’s vital, particularly looking ahead at next year’s competition where every euro and pound note is going to count, that we create the excitement that we are seeing now.

“When you’ve got six places available, there are teams in eighth and ninth scrapping for every point and it keeps everyone engaged and interested throughout the season.

“For the fans, players and everyone involved in the game, it’s the best way to do it. It creates excitement and it is building now after last week’s first round.

“We’ve now got two established regulars and favourites for the trophy plus ourselves and Hull who are desperate to break into the exclusive four-team monopoly of Grand Final winners. It’s all to play for.”

McNamara said his squad was ready for the challenge of Friday night at St Helens, and the players had benefitted from invaluable game-time following long periods of inactivity this year.

He said: “We’ve got some bumps and bruises from the Leeds match as you would expect from a game like that, but nothing too serious.

“We’ll prep as normal for Friday, we know our routine, but quite clearly the stakes are a lot higher in this game. We’re ready and we will play really well against St Helens as I’m sure they will.”

Also invaluable to McNamara is the rare game-time gained during last Friday’s fixture against Leeds. He said: “As a team we needed that game to be able to play better again this week.

“I knew we were ready to play, we went there and got the job done. The possession went away from us hugely in the second half and we were defending for long periods. I did have a slight concern with how we would deal with that, having only played one game in the previous six weeks, but we did alright.

“I thought Sam (Tomkins) sensed those big moments in the game and picked the right times to strike. Jimmy’s (Maloney) kicking was crucial and although he had a mixed bag defensively his big-game experience shone. Kicking goals like that from the sidelines makes such a difference in the big games.”

The Dragons chief declined to comment on any potential disciplinary issues from the Leeds game, adding: “I won’t comment on those specific incidents at this stage, we will deal with any further developments if and when they arise.”

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