Steve McNamara on the ‘evolution’ of his Catalans Dragons side

CATALANS DRAGONS will start next season with a brand-new spine but a familiar fearsome approach from their forwards, according to coach Steve McNamara.

The departure of eight senior players has meant a major overhaul at Stade Gilbert Brutus, but McNamara is keen to keep the club’s reputation for powerful packs intact.

He said: ”The DNA of this club won’t change; we’ve been known for tough, powerful packs, big in the middle and speed on the edge is what we’re all about.

“But that doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a long time to develop, which is why I speak about the evolution of this club.

“We have a certain DNA but we’re still over a hundred years behind the development of our rivals in the competition.

“It’s natural to grow your own style and we always want to be a team that is really difficult to play against physically and we will be that again next year.”

With new additions Bayley Sironen, Tariq Sims and Tevita Satae, there will be a familiar heavyweight pack at Les Dracs.

But there is a new-look spine of Arthur Mourgue at fullback, Theo Fages and Jayden Nikorima in the halves plus Michael McIlorum at hooker and McNamara is expecting to see more French players in key roles next season.

He added: “You have to put César Rougé and Alrix Da Costa into that spine mix; we had hoped to see a lot more of César last season but circumstances meant we couldn’t do that.

“Alrix’s development has been outstanding and if it wasn’t for the form of Micky, Alrix would have got a lot more game time by now. He has improved out of sight and we’re looking forward to seeing a lot more of him in 2024.

“Our spine will be completely different next year, but it’s an exciting challenge for us, and when you throw those names into it, you’ve got some exciting combinations that will pay dividends for the French national team too.”

McNamara is expected to make further recruitment before the season starts, adding: “We’re open minded about it; we’ve got salary cap space and an overseas slot available but we will be patient.”