Former England coach Steve McNamara has revealed the opportunity to return to Betfred Super League with Catalans Dragons was too good to turn down.

The 45-year-old, who started his coaching career at Bradford Bulls, was named as Laurent Frayssinous’ successor on a three-and-a-half-year deal on Monday morning after leaving his role as New Zealand Warriors’ assistant.
Steve McNamara
“It was a tough decision leaving the New Zealand Warriors and the position with the New Zealand Test team as well, but when a team like Catalans Dragons called, they are a genuine marquee club,” McNamara said at a press conference.

“I say that based on the fact that I know lots of people in the southern hemisphere would dearly love to play for this club.

“The timing wasn’t great in terms of halfway through the season for the Warriors but great in terms of the opportunity for me to come back and be a head coach at this club.

“With previous experiences with the England team, the Sydney Roosters, the New Zealand Warriors and the New Zealand Test team, I feel I am in great position to not only take the team forward but the whole club forward right now.”

McNamara left his role as England coach in 2015, having led them to the World Cup semi-finals two years earlier, and headed to Australia to become Sydney Roosters’ assistant before taking up similar positions with New Zealand Warriors and the Kiwis’ national team.

And McNamara believes his experiences in the NRL will stand him in good stead as he bids to keep the struggling Dragons in Super League this season.

“As you get older and have more experiences, your philosophies do adapt, change and improve, you never stop doing that,” said McNamara, who will start learning French this week.

“The NRL has opened my eyes to a completely different level of rugby league, as did the international game as well. Those types of experiences only add to my previous experiences. I am looking forward to bringing all of those to this club and giving everything we have got.

“I am really honoured to be head coach of Catalans, we represent the Catalan region and the whole of France. We play in an English-based competition but we represent France and I have got an opportunity to come in as an Englishman and represent France.

“I have visited this place in the past and played against this team in the past, so I am fully aware of how tough, resilient and passionate the people are, in and around this area. Make no mistake about it, our rugby league team has to play that way.”

McNamara takes over a Dragons side sitting in ninth place in the Super League table, three points off the top eight, after winning just six of their 18 matches.

He watched his new employers’ last match, a 56-12 defeat by Huddersfield Giants in front of their home fans, and quickly identified which aspects of the team needs improving ahead of Saturday’s trip to 10th-placed Warrington Wolves.

“I wouldn’t say it is an emergency, I would say urgency,” McNamara added.

“The team is struggling a little bit in confidence, or a lot in confidence, and that generally happens when there is disruption. You can quite easily become disconnected.

“The players need to relax a little bit, they need to clear their minds of the external pressures that may be on them. That is my job as the head coach, that is what I am here for, I am here to take that weight off them.

“I want them to think clearly and have clarity in terms of what we want them to do at the weekend. If they do that, and have clear minds, I think there is a chance of them doing that this weekend.”