Steve McNamara hails performances of young French star after brave Catalans Dragons call

CATALANS have got plenty in reserve as coach Steve McNamara shuffles his squad for a challenging second phase of the season.

“We’ve got a really tough block of fixtures ahead and we are going to need every available member of the playing group,” McNamara said after Saturday’s powerful return to form with a 36-6 victory over Hull KR.

The Dragons’ chief was delighted with his side’s performance, which saw them return to the top of the Super League table after the previous week’s heavy loss to Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup.

McNamara has a host of mainly French support players to call upon in the coming weeks and he intends to use every one of them.

He added: “Our supporters appreciate winning teams, ones that play well, work hard and are tough and strong.

“But they also like to see French players in the team. We’ll never pick a team based around that but we made a big decision tonight by leaving an overseas player on the bench in Jayden Nikorima.

“We decided to start César Rougé because it was right for the team and thankfully it proved to be the right decision.

“César has been with us for a while now and the players have trust in him. That trust gives him confidence and it’s a lesson for every young player in the game.

“We’ve got to give them game time wherever we can and it’s a problem over here with the split seasons between the French Championship and Super League (winter and summer campaigns).

“It’s not always easy to give everybody the time they would like, we’ve got Ugo Tison out on loan at London, so he is playing Super League, which is great for him.

“César is getting to play regularly now and his performances have improved.

“We had a couple of boys who didn’t play tonight, Alrix Da Costa, Paul Séguier, Matthieu Laguerre, Fouad Yaha and Franck Maria in particular who are waiting and ready to go.

“So we’ve got some interesting decisions to make for next week; we’ve got a shorter turnaround before we go to Leigh, so we’ll assess everyone and if we have to make changes we will.”