Catans Dragons coach Steve McNamara rallies side ahead of St Helens clash

Steve McNamara
Steve McNamara

Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara is urging his players to seize the moment as they close in on their first silverware.

While St Helens seek to end a decade-long wait to get their hands on the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup in Sunday's semi-final double header at Bolton, the French club are still waiting to lift a trophy of any kind.

Sky Bet make St Helens 1/4 favourites to win the match with Catalans 11/4.

"We are one of the only clubs not to have won a Challenge Cup or a Grand Final," said McNamara.

"We've only a short history but we all understand we can be the first to achieve something and to be part of a group that achieves that would be huge."

The Catalans went close in their second year in 2007 when, under Mick Potter, they reached the first final at the redeveloped Wembley only to come up against a St Helens team in their prime.

Saints won 30-8 that day and 12 months later defeated Hull to complete a hat-trick of Cup final triumphs.

It was the 12th major trophy in the first 13 years of Super League for a Saints team of all talents but their only success since then was the 2014 Grand Final win over Wigan.

An impressive finish to the 2017 season under new coach Justin Holbrook hinted at a return to the glory days and the Australian admits a Wembley date is long overdue.

"I know it's been 10 years so I understand the importance of the game, not just to the club but also to the town," said Holbrook. "We know it is a big game and everyone wants us to get there."

Holbrook says he is happy to embrace the favourites' tag but is aware of the threat posed by a Dragons team who finished the regular Super League season with seven wins and a draw from their last 10 matches.

"We're obviously going to be favourites based on the table but that honestly doesn't matter to us or them," he said.

"Steve McNamara has done a great job there but that hasn't surprised me. For one reason or another it didn't work out at the start of the year - but I didn't think with the side they had they would stay where they were.

"It always was a case of not if but when they would get it together."

McNamara has been delighted with his team's transformation but says they will need to step up a gear if they are to knock out the league leaders.

"St Helens have been outstanding all year," he said. "To only lose two games is an incredible feat.

"Justin has done a great job with them. If I was their chairman I'd expect them to win the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final.

"We understand the challenge in front of us. We've got to play way better than we have done.

"We've been going OK but, coming up against a team that's lost only two games all season, it's a big task in front of us."

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