Steve McNamara outlines Catalans Dragons’ plans for Jordan Abdull after transfer coup

CATALANS DRAGONS coach Steve McNamara believes Jordan Abdull will take his career to “another level” after agreeing to a one-season loan deal in Perpignan.

The 27-year-old former Hull FC and London Broncos’ playmaker has had four seasons at Hull KR (and is still contracted until 2026) but played just 55 games for the Robins because of a series of injuries.

Hull KR said in a statement: “The loan will see Abdull head to the south of France subject to a medical for the extent of the new season with no recall option.”

McNamara said the switch to a new club, new climate and new environment is exactly what Abdull needs at this stage of his career, adding: “I know we will get the very best out of Jordan as a player and a person on and off the field.

“He is one of the most naturally gifted players in the competition and he’s going to have to work hard and push here because it’s not an easy team to get into. But I think it’s a great opportunity for him and for us.

“It’s also a great deal for us, financially and logistically. There are no claw-back clauses, he can play against his parent club and we have got a top player for a whole season. If all goes well, we have an option to sign him permanently without a transfer fee.”

McNamara is hoping Abdull will follow in the footsteps of former Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone, who struggled with injuries until he joined the Dragons last season.

He said: “Tom Johnstone is a great kid and he’s worked really hard to get to where he is now. Our training environment, the way we do things and the climate that we are living in has really helped him.

“Jordan’s a Hull lad like me and I know he will flourish when he gets himself outside of the city, like he did when he went to London.

“It’s a mental thing as much as anything, you’re out of the fish bowl at another club, you’re in another country and you’re clear in your mind, which Jordan will be when he comes here and the rest will hopefully follow.”

McNamara said Abdull provided him with a new variety of options for 2024, adding: “I’m really happy with our halves, Théo Fages, Jayden Nikorima and César Rougé, but when you lose the likes of (Mitchell) Pearce, (Sam) Tomkins, (Tyrone) May, (Adam) Keighran and now Tanguy Zenon, who has a long-term injury, we were probably a bit light in terms of competition for spaces.

“With Jordan we’ve added depth and brought in top-end quality and we can now look at César and Jayden training a little at fullback if we need them as cover for Arthur Mourgue.”

Speaking on the move, Hull KR coach Willie Peters said: “Jordan and I sat down and had a good, honest conversation of where he was at both on and off the field.

“During the conversation, we discussed the opportunity for Jordan to join Catalans Dragons that was on the table.

“After a few days of reflection, Jordan chose to take up the opportunity with Catalans and we will not stand in his way.”

Abdull, who made his England debut in 2021 against France at Stade Gilbert Brutus, added: “In Rugby League you never know what is around the corner and this is no different. I’m excited to be part of the Catalans club and experience a new culture and a fresh start.

“I can’t wait to meet the boys now and rip in and set myself up for a good season with the Dragons.”

Abdull will join pre-season training in Perpignan this week following the return of five senior Dragons’ players, including influential veteran hooker Michael McIlorum.

McNamara added: “Micky is leading the way in training as always; he’s had an extended break and he’s as fit as ever but with added freshness thanks to the time off.

“The intensity always lifts when Micky’s at training. He has led the way physically at this club since he arrived six years ago and at training everybody tries to stay with him.

“He’s an individual and he likes to do things a certain way and the younger players look up to him. The way he plays and the way he lives his life is a great example to them.

“The squad’s in really good shape, we’ve brought in seven junior players to train with the first team and we have to carefully integrate them because they are in the middle of their season in the French championship.

“Like every other season you have to start with foundation work, we’re at stage two now and I’m happy so far. Of course we haven’t picked a team or won or lost a game yet and while the playing group is in good spirits we need to be continually on our toes.

“We have to get everything right at every stage if we’re hoping to progress and improve this club year on year.”

Catalans are expected to reveal their squad numbers for 2024 later this week.