Steve McNamara will take charge of his first match in charge of Catalans Dragons tomorrow
The former England boss has quit his role as assistant at the New Zealand Warriors in order to take the reins at the struggling French outfit on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
The Dragons, who sacked Laurent Frayssinous last month, have won just one of their last nine games and are facing a huge fight to avoid finishing in the bottom four and at risk of relegation from the Super League.
But McNamara is up for the challenge. The 45-year-old divides opinion following spells in charge of Bradford and England and assistant roles at NRL outfits Sydney Roosters and the Auckland-based Warriors, but insisted: “I’ve not got a point to prove at all.
“I started my career at Bradford and it was a really tough situation. The England programme, I’m extremely proud of where we took it, and then I went to the NRL and was involved with two great clubs, so I’ve no points to prove whatsoever.
“I’ve had some enjoyable experiences and am just delighted to be head coach of Catalans.”
Catalans Dragons have won just one of their last nine games
I’ve had some enjoyable experiences and am just delighted to be head coach of Catalans
When McNamara succeeded Brian Noble as Bradford boss in April 2006, he became the youngest coach in Britain.
However, his Odsal reign saw him preside over several unwanted records and, as the Bulls fell into decline, McNamara took over as England coach in 2010.
He formed an England Knights squad to supplement the elite squad and was not afraid to court controversy in his selection. He picked New Zealand-born Rangi Chase ahead of Danny Brough but perhaps later regretted that.
McNamara fostered a better environment in the England camp after a rift between the Leeds and St Helens players was partly blamed for the disastrous 2008 World Cup performance.
McNamara delved into other sports in search of new ideas and forged links with Stuart Pearce, Roy Hodgson, Sir Alex Ferguson, Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster.
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Some felt he should have gone after England’s World Cup campaign on home soil in 2013. When McNamara finally won a series after England beat New Zealand 2-1 in 2015, he was shown the door and replaced by Wayne Bennett.
Yet he has kept reinventing himself and added: “As you get older and see more experiences, your philosophies adapt and change and improve.
“You never stop doing that and the NRL opened my eyes to a completely different level of club rugby league. I’m looking forward to bringing all of those experiences to this club.”
McNamara began French lessons on Thursday and is aware of the task facing him after Catalans were thumped 56-12 by Huddersfield in Perpignan in their last outing.
“I saw a team that was disconnected,” he said. “I’m not going to pre-judge people before I walk into the building but it looked like they lack clarity at times.
“At times, that can look as though you’re not trying but it’s down to not being sure what you’re supposed to do.
“When a team changes coach, generally it’s not because it’s in a great position and there are things at the club that need to improve quite clearly.
“But this group of players has a lot of potential to improve and we will work to get that as quickly as possible.
“This is one hell of a big club in worldwide rugby league and we need to make sure we can get it to fulfil its potential – starting this weekend.”
Warrington are reeling after five straight defeats but will leapfrog Catalans with victory today.