Israel Folau ‘ready for next challenge’, says Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara

Israel Folau is ready for his next challenge after an enforced week off, says Catalans Dragons coach Steve McNamara.

The 30-year-old dual-code international made the perfect start to his Super League career, scoring with his first touch on his debut in the Dragons’ 36-18 win over Castleford in Perpignan 10 days ago.

The French club were without a fixture at the weekend because scheduled opponents St Helens were playing in the World Club Challenge and McNamara believes the week off will have been beneficial for their new signing as he prepares for Sunday’s trip to Hull.

“His mind would say he wanted to play again straight away but his body probably suggested the week off won’t have done him any harm,” McNamara said.

“He pulled through it sore but recovered really well and has trained fully at the back end of last week and the start of this week.

“He is looking in good shape again and he’s looking forward to this new challenge.”

Folau surprised the Dragons coaching staff with his endurance in his first game of any rugby for 10 months.

“We knew he was ready to play but we weren’t quite sure he would last for the 80 minutes,” McNamara added. “He did remarkably well.

“We had a contingency plan if he needed to come off but it didn’t cross our minds during the game. As the game got going, it was clear he was ready to stay out there.”

Catalans pressed ahead with the signing of Folau despite widespread opposition following the player’s comments on social media in which he said “hell awaits gays”.

Hull-born McNamara would not be drawn on the reaction the player can expect this weekend, insisting the furore has not been a distraction for his team.

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