The Rugby Football League will get together with Super League early this week to set out the criteria aspiring clubs will need to meet in order to take Toronto’s place at the top table.
They will form a panel to decide on the tender process and scrutinise the bids, with a final decision expected in December.
Featherstone chairman Mark Campbell had expressed his fear that Super League clubs would opt to stick with 11 teams after rejecting Toronto to ensure a bigger share of central distribution but Houles said the decision to expand did not take him by surprise and his club were the first to formally signal their interest in filling the vacancy.
“There is no smoke without fire,” he said. “It had been in the air for a few weeks that there was a possibility that, if Toronto wasn’t allowed back in, they would want to run Super League with 12 teams.
“We had a five-year plan to take us to Super League and 2020 was our fourth year. To be fair, if we are not ready now, I can’t see what the next stage is.
“It’s been four years since we turned full-time and we have been building bit by bit. Our structure now is one of the best in the Super League. The Ernest Wallon Stadium is a magnificent ground to watch rugby.
“I do believe we are ready for 2021.”
Toulouse have already signed players of the calibre of Mitch Garbutt and Eloi Pelissier for next season and are expected to complete moves for St Helens forwards Joseph Paulo and Dominique Peyroux if they get the nod to enter Super League.
Houles added: “Our pre-season will start at the end of November whether we’re in Super League or the Championship.
“We’ve already signed Super League players and I’m looking at having a bit more depth, securing four or five more players with Super League experience. Other than that, not much will change.”
Toulouse can expect fierce competition for the 12th place, with London Broncos, Featherstone and, most recently Bradford, having thrown their hat into the ring, while Leigh, Halifax and York are also expected to make a bid.
That is despite only £1million being allocated from the TV deal for the newcomers, almost half the current distribution, and Houles insists there will be no complaints from his club.
“A few years ago this club was nearly dying but our former president Carlos Zalduendo built it back together and put it back on the map in France,” he said.
“We have had setbacks which have really tested us and we’ve had to regroup but I believe it has made us stronger.
“If we receive half of the central funding, we’ll deal with it, like all the other things. There won’t be an excuse, we’ll grab it with two hands and have a good crack at it.”
Not surprisingly, Toulouse’s application is being backed by Catalans Dragons and Houles says a French derby in Super League could take the game to a new level, not only in France but in Europe.
“At the end of the day, it’s about looking at the vision, how we can make our game grow in France and in Europe too,” he said.
🇫🇷 Un grand merci au Président Bernard GUASCH et aux @DragonsOfficiel de soutenir officiellement notre candidature à la Super League 2021.
— Toulouse Olympique XIII (@TOXIII) November 6, 2020
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