Championship Preview: Toulouse

Last season: 10th

Toulouse have made no secret of their Super League ambitions, and you feel their inclusion in the Championship is a mere stepping stone to where they want to be. In that case, they’ll have to improve greatly on last season, where they finished tenth, and reach the Grand Final.

Continuity will be the key. They’ve kept themselves largely under the radar as coach Gilles Dumas looks to learn from the mistakes of last season, which saw the French side struggle at the beginning of the season, but become a formidable outfit, particularly at home, by the end of it.

Of course, people will be looking at the off-field prospects of the club in relation to a possible licence application. Their average attendance of 2,372 in 2009 was bettered only by Widnes (3,808) and was greater than that of champions Barrow (2,280) and Grand Finalists Halifax (2,325).

Dumas has retained the bulk of the squad that from last season, but has gained two notable additions in Catalans’ French international three-quarter Vincent Duport and young Leeds back-rower Simon Worrall. They have also swooped to sign a trio of promising young players from the French Elite Championship, in Romain Mencarini (UTC), Carlos Varela (Lyon) and Yoan Tisseyre (Lezignan).

Scrum half Nathan Wynn will once again take on the role of chief playmaker for the French side – it was no coincidence that their four game losing streak in June last season came during his absence. He, together with hooker Martin Mitchell, will be looking to guide the team around the park and better the nine games that they won in 2009.

Preparation already looks better than last season, with three friendlies played ahead of the opener with Dewsbury on Saturday. A 46-22 loss by Catalans was followed by a 28-18 defeat at Limoux, but they bounced back with a 26-14 win against St Gaudens last Friday.

The play-offs must surely be an absolute minimum for Toulouse this season, if they are to achieve their top flight dream.

Prediction: 8th
Key man: Nathan Wynn

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