Carl Ablett’s View from the Pitch: Coach Steve McNamara will bring in a fresh culture at the Catalans Dragons

Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara. PIC: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara. PIC: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com
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WELCOME BACK to Super League Steve McNamara.

I think he’ll do a good job at Catalans Dragons and I’m pleased to see him coaching in our competition again after a few years in the NRL.

Former Catalans Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous.

Former Catalans Dragons coach Laurent Frayssinous.

From what I’ve seen as an outsider looking in, he has got a big job on his hands in Perpignan.

Catalans have some good players and should be doing a lot better than they are.

Obviously they need someone to go in and create a good culture and a winning environment.

They were struggling before their previous coach Laurent Frayssinous got sacked and since then they’ve been as bad, if not even worse.

Looking at how the last few weeks have gone I think it’s the right time for someone to go in and give them a new direction and some fresh ideas.

When I was coached by Steve at England he created a good culture and I think he’ll bring some freshness to Catalans.

He has gone in at the deep end with only five games left before the split into the eights.

They are in the bottom-four now, but they play the team below them, Warrington Wolves, tomorrow and if they can win that it will give them a chance.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Steve to get his views across and start picking up results.

Sometimes when a new coach comes in there’s an instant impact, like when Justin Holbrook took over at Saints this year and they hammered Hull in his first game.

Catalans have got some pretty big games coming up, so Steve is going to have to get cracking or they could be in the middle-eights and fighting against relegation. They aren’t the only ones, because the competition is tight at the top and bottom.

When the fixtures came out, Warrington versus Catalans in round 19 looked like being a big game, but not in the bottom-four.

It looks like there’s five teams battling for places in the top-four going into the split and the other seven are worrying about being dragged into the Qualifiers. There’s a few teams under pressure and this is the time of year when results really start to matter, because there’s not that many points left to play for.

Everyone has got something at stake and that’s the way it should be, so I am not keen on some of the proposals being suggested for next year.

I have been reading that the clubs are considering a change so everyone in the Super-8s starts on zero points from next year. I think that would be a bad move. If they did it this year, Cas – who are six clear at the moment – would go into the business end on the same points as the team who finish eighth.

How is that fair? If it happens it is going to make for a lot of meaningless matches in the second half of the regular season and once teams get to 20 points – which is what you probably need to be in the Super-8s – they’ll be able to ease off and rest people knowing there’s nothing really at stake.

Going into round 19 Cas are 14 points clear of Wigan, who are eighth. They’ve worked hard for those points and deserve to get the benefit in the final third of the year.

What we want is tough, intense matches week in and week out and, at the moment, I think we’ve got that. Speaking of tough and intense games, I expect we’re in for one tonight. Cas have been the best team in the comp this year and their result at Hull last week hasn’t changed that.

It sounds like there’s going to be a massive crowd and it is third against first, so it’s the big game of the weekend.

It should be a great occasion, but we’re not trying to build the game up or approach it any differently to other weeks.

As far as we’re concerned, it’s just another two points. We want to go out and play well and win and the key thing for us is to keep progressing and improving.

That sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. It will be a big two points if we get the result, but it won’t make our season if we win or break it if we don’t.

I would love to be out there tonight, but, unfortunately, I’ve been poorly this week so I’m going to have to sit it out.

Hopefully it’s nothing long-lasting and I’ll be back in the mix for the Saints game next Thursday.

Tom Briscoe.

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