Steve McNamara on difference between Catalans and English Super League clubs, why he brought in Andy Last and getting over Grand Final heartache

CATALANS DRAGONS head coach Steve McNamara has hailed the weather in France in giving his players a fruitful pre-season.

During the year, of course, the weather in the south of France can become ridiculously hot, but, at this time of year, it is perfect for training outside in.

And McNamara believes it will stand his squad in good stead for the year.

“Every coach says that. No one has lost a game yet or had to drop any players. For us, in particular, we have some disadvantages being the south of France due to travel and the weather,” McNamara told League Express.

“But, in pre-season, the weather is great. We have had every single day in training outside so it’s been a good pre-season.”

Of course, memories of last year’s Super League Grand Final – which the Dragons lost 10-2 to Wigan – hurt greatly at the time, with McNamara expressing the toll such a loss has on the club.

“For every club, people have to understand the amount of energy and effort invested physically and mentally by everyone involved in the organisation and that takes its toll over nine months. It’s a really long period of time where you are switched on and fully committed.

“So when you get to a final and lose by a small score, it does hurt and it has taken a while to get over to be honest. But, we are up and running with new players and new coaching staff so it’s been a bit different and interesting start for us.”

In that new coaching staff, former Castleford Tigers boss Andy Last has joined McNamara as assistant coach following the exits of Sam Moa and Eamon O’Carroll.

“We lost Eamon O’Carroll to Bradford which was a great opportunity for him to do that and Sam Moa has gone back to Australia.

“They were really fundamental parts of our coaching staff so I was looking for someone that had experience and they don’t come any more experienced than Andy Last.

“He is a great guy and a great coach. I knew he would bring a lot to us and I also felt we could bring a lot to him and get him outside of that M62 corridor.

“I wanted to take him out his own comfort zone and challenge him in different areas and he’s done that. He’s brought a lot to us in pre-season and I look forward to working with him throughout the year.”

In terms of comfort zones, McNamara has admitted that Catalans was way out of his as well.

“It’s way outside of my comfort zone but that’s one of the best things about it. I always looked – from the outside – that it would be a nice challenge and be different.

“I tried to get my message across in two different languages with one where you can’t speak it at all. There were – and are – so many different challenges with it all but it’s just worked for me.

“The club suits my style and my style suits the club and it has managed to work so far. There is something there that challenges you as a player and a coach in every single aspect which is something you cannot get at a club in England.”

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