A MUST win Challenge Cup encounter ensures there is no settling in period for Toulouse Olympique as the club prepares to make its long-awaited return to the United Kingdom.
The reigning French Federation of Rugby League Elite One champions meet Wath Brow Hornets in their knockout third round clash on Saturday – the club’s first match in nine months.
Spearheaded by Australian quartet Johnathon Ford, Mark Kheirallah, Gregory White and new recruit Rhys Curran, Toulouse Olympique is aiming to progress through to the latter stages of the prestigious competition, which was first played in 1896, where they have the opportunity to tackle Super League teams.
They’ll be boosted by the recruitment of prop Tyla Hepi, who featured for Whitehaven in the 2015 Kingstone Press Championship.
The Hornets are an amateur club based in England’s north west and play in the National Conference League’s first division.
They head into the encounter after defeating RAF 26-4 and Oulton Raiders 30-4 in their opening two Challenge Cup matches.
Toulouse Olympique’s players are eager to get their first taste of rugby league after enduring a gruelling preseason under the watchful eye of former player and club strength conditioning coach Adam Innes.
They were slated to play a trial match against Elite 2 club St Gaudens a fortnight ago, but bad weather forced the match to be abandoned.
Toulouse will make their debut in the Kingstone Press League 1 competition when they host Coventry Bears at their new home ground, Stade Ernest Argeles de Blagnac, on March 5.
The match will be Toulouse’s first regular season appearance in a UK-based competition since 2011.
The third round Challenge Cup match between Wath Brow Hornets and Toulouse Olympique kicks-off at 3pm (local time) on February 27.