Championship Preview: Toulouse to make up for missed opportunity

James Gordon

It’s perhaps a testament to the progress of Toulouse that they were disappointed not to make The Qualifiers in 2017.

In their first season back in the Championship, they exceeded all expectations and looked set to reach the top four, only to be pipped by Halifax at the death.

That spared them what could have been both a mouth-watering but disastrous clash for French rugby league with Catalans Dragons in The Qualifiers, but having breezed through the Championship Shield, it is clear that this year, Toulouse have to make that step.

They have retained a core group of players, including star full back Mark Kheirallah, as well as adding some quality to it in Sam Rapira, William Barthau and Eddy Pettybourne.

That should enable them to head the group of teams chasing Leigh and Toronto, even with the surprise departure of winger Kuni Minga.

Perhaps one of the headline Championship signings of the off-season was Rapira making the switch from Huddersfield.

He said: “What the club want to do appealed to me. They’re not here to make the numbers up. They want to try and get to Super League so be part of a club that’s willing to get to that level, I thought would be pretty cool.

“As a group, we’ve got a really good balance of senior and young guys, a lot of local French guys which is good for the club, and the bulk of the team has been together for three or four years now.

“You can tell within the boys they’re strong which sometimes isn’t easy to get.

“If we can play as well as we can, I think we’re going to compete really well this year.”

With developments moving fast off the pitch too, with the renovation of the club’s stadium, it is an exciting time for Toulouse, who already in one year have shown exceptional progress compared to their previous three-year stint in the division from 2009.

Head Coach: Sylvain Houles
Captain: Sebastien Planas
Key Man: Mark Kheirallah
One to Watch: Stanislas Robin

Ins: Sam Rapira (Huddersfield), William Barthau (London B), Eddy Pettybourne (Gold Coast)
Outs: Levy Nzoungou (Salford), Greg White, Kalausa Leha, Kuni Minga.

Squad: 1 Mark Kheirallah, 2 Tony Maurel, 3 Bastien Ader, 4 Gavin Marguerite, 6 Jonathon Ford, 7 Stanislas Robin, 8 Clement Boyer, 9 Anthony Marion, 10 Bastien Canet, 11 Sebastien Planas, 12 Rhys Curren, 13 Andrew Bentley, 14 Mourad Kriouache, 15 Maxime Puech, 16 Tyla Hepi, 17 Eddy Pettybourne, 18 Sam Rapira, 19 Charles Bouzinac, 20 Paul Marcon, 23 Justin Sangare, 26 Constantine Mika, 30 William Barthau.

Prediction: 4th