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McNamara says relocating Catalans is last resort as club issues Folau statement

Steve McNamara says basing Catalans in England for the early part of the 2021 season would be a “last resort” as plans for the new campaign continue.

Super League has confirmed that fixture formulas of 23 or 25 rounds are now favoured over the original 27, after the season kick-off was pushed back two weeks to March 25. Moving Magic Weekend further back in the year from its planned late May slot at Newcastle’s St James’ Park is also being discussed.

The other dilemma for the competition is the Perpignan-based Dragons, amid uncertainty over travel movements in coming weeks. But former England coach McNamara says there is still enough time to put plans in place that avoid his squad having to move wholesale to England until movement between the countries becomes easier.

Catalans winger Tom Davies in action against Wakefield in last year’s Challenge Cup

McNamara said: “That would be a last resort for us, and for us to get to that stage, we’d have to consult many people that would impact upon. The travel corridors are currently open for elite sport – there’s been advice from the French government for French rugby union teams not to travel. But that’s not a mandate and saying they can’t do it, and as it stands the corridors for elite sport are open.

“Obviously scheduled flights are difficult and limited at the moment, and while private travel is an option, we already know the huge impact that can have on our club. But basing ourselves in England is not something we’re currently considering and we’ve got a bit of time yet.

“We’ve had some really good dialogue with the RFL, Super League and also Toulouse, who are in the same position as us in the Championship, to see what the best solution could be.”

Catalans insist there is nothing sinister in Israel Folau’s delayed return

The Dragons were widely praised for their commitment in helping to fulfil the 2020 season, flying in and out of England regularly on the day.

Meanwhile the club has moved to quell reports that star signing Israel Folau could leave Catalans as he has not yet returned from a close season in Australia.

The Catalans statement read: “The club and Israel Folau have been in constant dialogue since Christmas regarding a personal family situation. This along with Covid restrictions are currently preventing his return to France.”




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