Kilshaw: Toulouse match is like David v Goliath

Rochdale have the chance to earn promotion to the Championship if they can claim a victory away to Toulouse this weekend.

The French side have yet to lose a game in the league this season and Hornets head coach Alan Kilshaw, who fully acknowledges the challenge, has likened the clash to a certain boxing match.

“It’s a bit like when Rocky faced Apollo Creed. Everyone has written us off,” he told Love Rugby League.

“It is similar to pre-season when we were touted to finish 7th. Despite what everyone else might think we are confident we can go there and get a positive result.”

Kilshaw admitted the potential prize of promotion makes the match hugely significant for the club.

“It’s a huge game. As a club we have not been in many finals,” he said.

“There is a place in the Championship at stake which makes it the most important game in the club’s recent history.”

Rochdale’s last trip across the English Channel proved to be a day to forget after suffering a 46-6 defeat, but Kilshaw explained there were several players unavailable on that occasion.

“We had some key players missing last time and a few were in the backs which didn’t allow us to play the brand of rugby we have played all season.

“The likes of Chris Riley, Dave Cookson and James Tilley were all absent and I think that really showed.

“Those players will be back for this weekend and I believe their presence will make a big difference.”

A place in the Championship would be a huge achievement for the club especially because of the small budget which the club operates on, according to Kilshaw.

“It would mean a lot. We have a very strict budget and we don’t pay over the odds for players.

“Our club deserves a lot more respect than it has been shown. It would be good to get recognition from outside circles as well as the RFL.

“Winning promotion would be a big shot in the arm for clubs like ours and I think it would be huge for the town.”

If the Hornets fail to clinch promotion this weekend they would have to play another two matches which is wrong, according to Kilshaw.

“We are keen to wrap it at the first opportunity but if it doesn’t happen then we will deal with it,” he said.

“I think it is pretty harsh that the loser of the match between first and second plays a team who has had a week off. The format needs looking at.”

It might seem like this way is the easier route to the Championship considering Toulouse are undefeated all season in the league but Kilshaw does not agree.

“There is nothing easy about the play-offs. This time of year you have really got to ramp it up.

“It is going to be very tough but we have a lot of finals experience in the group. The likes of Chris Riley who have played in Challenge Cup finals will be key for us at this stage of the season.”

 

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