Steve McNamara and Catalans Dragons eye Super League Grand Final history

CATALANS Dragons boss Steve McNamara says his childhood in Hull and coaching Bradford Bulls both helped him put the French club on the brink of history.

He hopes Les Dracs can defeat champions St Helens to win the Super League Grand Final for the first time at Old Trafford tonight.

They would be the first team from outside of England – outside of the M62 corridor – to lift the title. It would be a seismic moment for French rugby league especially with Toulouse Olympique looking to join Catalans in Super League by winning tomorrow’s Million Pound Game.

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However, it would also mark a high for Yorkshireman McNamara who took over in Perpignan when the club were fearing relegation in 2017 but led them to a maiden Challenge Cup final win 12 months later and this year a first-ever League Leaders’ Shield.

Father and son Steve and Ben McNamara (Picture: Laurent Selles/SWPix.com)

The Hull-born former England coach, 50, has helped turn around the culture of a Catalans side who were far too inconsistent.

He became a head coach with Bradford when they were reigning Super League and World Club champions in 2006, when the club’s infamous financial issues were slowly beginning to emerge.

McNamara endured difficult times at Odsal but was appointed England coach in 2010 where he implemented numerous positive changes only to be ousted despite a 2015 series win over the Kiwis.

Assistant roles at Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors, though, further enhanced his abilities and he has proved doubters wrong with the way he has advanced the Dragons.

“When I was England coach, I spent a week with Trent (Robinson) at Catalans and I felt an affinity with the club,” explained McNamara, who has spent large periods away from his family to help transform Catalans.

“I always enjoyed it and thought ‘one day I’d like to coach here.’ So, when the chance came up I didn’t want to ask too many questions as I knew the answers wouldn’t be great in terms of where the club was at the time. But I really wanted to do it, so I took it on.

“Experiences form who you are and where you get to in life, right from my days at Bradford starting out as a coach. I learnt a lot at New Zealand Warriors about the impact of travel on a team. That was another vital experience. I’ve had unconditional support from my family throughout. And it’s been awesome.”

His 19-year-old son Ben McNamara debuted for Hull last season and he added: “All my family will be here at Old Trafford. My mum and dad were out in France for the semi-final against Hull KR.

Steve McNamara, head coach of Catalans Dragons (Picture: Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com)

“As a kid my dad would take me to the Boulevard to watch Hull FC and he would do coaching courses, so I was involved in the game from an early age. It’ll go crazy in Perpignan if we win. But we’ve got to work hard and perform for 80 minutes like we have all season.”

Grand Final preview: Page 7