Tonga and Leigh Centurions bound for Toulouse for Cup clash

FORMER Queensland State of Origin centre Willie Tonga and a host of ex-NRL stars are headed to the south of France after Toulouse Olympique drew Leigh Centurions in their fifth round Challenge Cup tie.

Toulouse has made an unbeaten start to their 2016 campaign and face their toughest challenge when they host Kingstone Press Championship side the Centurions at Stade Argeles at Blagnac on April 16-17 following the Challenge Cup draw on Tuesday.

Tonga, 32, represented the Maroons eight times and Australia on 12 occasions and spent 13 seasons in the NRL after making his debut for the Parramatta Eels in 2002.

He enjoyed stints at Canterbury Bulldogs and North Queensland Cowboys before joining Super League side Catalans Dragons in 2015.

Tonga is joined at the Centurions by fellow ex-NRL players Fuifui Moimoi, Reni Maitua, Dayne Weston and Corey Paterson.

They’ll potentially suit up alongside one-time New Zealand and Samoan international Harrison Hansen; ex-Great Britain and England star Gareth Hock and former Super League Man of Steel Rangi Chase.

Leigh made a promising run in their 2015 Challenge Cup campaign knocking out Super League clubs Salford and Wakefield before suffering defeat to Warrington Wolves in the quarter-finals.

The Centurions are currently sitting in third place on the Championship ladder, which is the competition directly below Super League, after winning four of their first six matches of the season.

Toulouse is currently on top of the Kingstone Press League 1 ladder after convincing wins in their opening two matches of the season.

It’s understood Toulouse coach Sylvain Houles and his playing group are excited by the opportunity to test themselves against a side with the calibre of players that Leigh possesses.

In the fifth round’s other matches community club Lock Lane travel to Halifax, Championship powerhouses Batley Bulldogs and Featherstone Rovers clash, while Dewsbury Rams meet York City Knights.

League 1 side Rochdale Hornets will welcome a home ground advantage as they face the enormous task of tackling current Super League leaders Widnes Vikings, while Hunslet Hawks host Salford Red Devils.

Oldham travel to face Super League outfit, and 2015 Challenge Cup finalists, Hull Kingston Rovers while Wakefield Trinity Wildcats host 1998 Challenge Cup winners Sheffield Eagles.


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