A QUICK glance over the Limoux Grizzlies’ team sheet, and it’s fair to say they shouldn’t be playing in this weekend’s French Federation of Rugby League’s Elite 1 grand final.
But they are. And that’s all that matters.
They’ll take on minor premiers AS Carcassonne in the 2016 decider at Albi on Saturday.
That’s the beauty of sport, and especially team sports.
I may be bias but my club, Lezignan Sangliers, has a better team on paper than the Grizzlies.
We played against them six times throughout the season, and they won on five of the six occasions (the one time we won was against a second string Limoux side, but that’s another story).
I was confident we could get the result every single time.
I never felt they were a better team, but they continually got the job done.
Looking back on each of their wins and there were various moments in each match where the game was in the balance.
They may not have been in front at the time, but they found something within the group and they found a way to win.
On the other hand, Carcassonne have been the team to beat all year.
My first experience of them this season was a 40-point thrashing in my first home match in the Sangliers’ colours at Stade Moulin.
Their forward pack blasted us through the middle allowing scheming conductor Maxime Greseque to weave his magic.
He may be getting on a little but he’s still sharp between the ears.
And he knows how to win.
He was a member of the highly successful Pia Donkeys outfit during their tenure in the Elite 1 competition.
Throw in his halves partner former Gold Coast Titans playmaker Kayne Lawton, ex-New Zealand international Vinnie Anderson, the damaging Kouma Samson and evergreen prop Ty Pau and you can see why they’re featuring on the competition’s biggest stage.
The quintet’s support crew includes young prop Oliver Percy, second rowers Haydn Peacock and Bastien Escamilla; fullback Clement Soubeyras and winger Luke Towers.
Carcassonne has a quality team right across the park, just like they’ve had in previous seasons.
However, a recipe for success isn’t all about having the best quality ingredients.
It’s about having the right ingredients.
Limoux has that mix spot on.
They have a youthful forward pack who are for the most part toilers – blokes who roll their sleeves up and work hard for each other.
They’re not going to score flashy tries but they’ll certainly put their bodies on the line to save you plenty.
Added to that their pack includes players like Sione Massima, Seb Martins and Mickael Rouche; three guys who can single-handedly change a game.
They possess sharp late footwork at the line, and have the ability to get the ball away in traffic.
Then there’s Australian Paul Ivan in the back row, whose size and speed makes it difficult for his opposite number every week.
He ensures any half defending him and the players either side of him get through plenty of work, draining the sting out of their attack.
Their side is steered around by the experienced skipper Michael Murcia while young dummy half Alex Alberola and the wily Sylvain Texeido pounce on any opportunity that may present.
Their outside backs are young kids who have come through the junior ranks and earned their place in the Elite 1 competition.
Just like in their forward pack, Limoux have a couple gems out wide in Pat Mataele and Amine Miloudi.
Mataele’s hard running on the edge and strong fend makes stopping him difficult while Miloudi has a touch of class and will be a player of the future if he can work hard at his game.
On French domestic rugby league’s biggest stage, who will be the victor?
Will it be the champion team or the team of champions?
I can’t wait to find out.
Tune in on Saturday at 3pm local time (11pm AEST) to see all the action live here.