FORMER ENGLAND coach Steve McNamara has returned to European rugby league and linked up with the Catalans Dragons. He has signed a two and a half year contract that will take him up until the end of the 2019 season in Perpignan.
McNamara had been coaching at the New Zealand Warriors after a stint at Sydney Roosters – alongside former Catalans boss Trent Robinson – since leaving England at the end of the 2015 Test Series with New Zealand.
The former Hull, Bradford, Huddersfield and Great Britain loose forward enjoyed a mixed career with England, suffering a heart-breaking last minute defeat to New Zealand in the semi-final of the 2013 World Cup but also winning a Test Series over the Kiwis in his final tournament.
The Catalans sacked Laurent Frayssinous at the end of May after a succession of poor results, culminating in a defeat to Huddersfield at the Magic Weekend. The Perpignan side have struggled all season and find themselves in 10th, in real danger of finding themselves in the Middle 8s come the league split at the end of July.
“I am very honoured to be named coach of the Catalans Dragons” McNamara told the Dragons website. “It’s a club of great potential and I look forward to working in collaboration with the current staff and the playing group to help them move forward in all areas, in terms of both performance and organisation.”
The Dragons have lost 3 of 4 since sacking Frayssinous and face three of their relegation rivals in the coming weeks. McNamara’s first game will be away at Warrington, who lie a point behind the French side in the table, followed by fellow strugglers Leigh at home. The Catalans then take on a Wigan side who sit directly above them in Perpignan.
20 points has historically been good enough to make the Super 8s. The Dragons are currently on 13, with Wigan and Huddersfield ahead of them on 16 and Warrington behind on 12.