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Championship Season Preview: Toulouse Olympique XIII

Toulouse’s arrival on the rugby league scene has been impressive and has recently gone under the radar since the emergence of Toronto but they will certainly grab more headlines this season.

In the space of three years, the French Side have climbed up the league pyramid and have established themselves as a Championship big hitter.

2017 saw them miss out on the top four but they were so close to achieving promotion last season after finishing third in the Championship.

The task in 2019 is not necessarily promotion but it is to improve on 2018. With all of their top four rivals strengthening well, plus York City Knights and Bradford Bulls gaining promotion, this Championship season looks as tough as it ever had been.

However, Toulouse have added Scotland international James Bell from the New Zealand Warriors and Paterika Vaivai has come in from Leigh, as has Ilias Bergal.

Ben Evans was signed from London Broncos, while Dean Parata signature has seen Olympique capture one of Barrow Raiders best players from last season.

Mark Kheirallah, Johnathon Ford and Rhys Curran have all managed to stay in France despite interest from elsewhere so Toulouse have an extremely decent squad and should fight for that top spot.

As with Catalans in Super League and with Toronto, home form will be crucial. They lost twice at home last season and that will need to stay the same if they are to be successful this year.

Sylain Houles has spoken of the club’s need to improve it’s player pathways for young players and has admitted himself that the club isn’t ready for Super League. 2019 could be the year that they cut the gap to the top.

Squad:

Mark Kheirallah, Tony Maurel, Bastien Ader, Gavin Marguerite, Paul Macron, Johnathon Ford, Stan Robin, Maxime Puech, Anthony Marion, Joe Bretherton, Rhys Curran, Andrew Bentley, Dean Parata, Ben Evans, Tyla Hepi, Paterika Vaivai, Clement Boyer, James Bell, Ilias Bergal, Jordan Dezaria, Brenden Santi, Justin Sangare, Con Mika, Will Bartua.

INS:

Dean Parata (Barrow Raiders), Joe Bretherton (Wigan Warriors), Ilias Bergal (Leigh Centurions), Jordan Dezaria (Leigh Centurions), Ben Evans (London Broncos), Paterika Vaivai (Leigh Centurions), Brenden Santi (Townsville Blackhawks), James Bell (New Zealand Warriors).

OUTS:

Sam Rapira (retired), Bastien Canet (AS Carcassonne), Charles Bouzinac (Lezignan Sangliers), Mourad Kriouache (released).

PREDICTED LEAGUE FINISH – 2nd

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