Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Saturday's Coming: Toulouse Pt 2

"Whatever our competitors, we want to do even better than last time, and this is especially true against Rochdale."

The giddiness increased this week in Toulouse as Olympique prepared for what they see as the ‘title decider’.

Toulouse Sports (@TlsSports) tweeted:  “If @TOXIII beats @RochdaleHornets Saturday in Blagnac they will be assured of hosting the final for the title (In practice, the draw is enough)”

Toulouse (@TOXIII ) responded: “Exactly. But we prefer not to take risks, and we will seek victory.”

Their preview features an interview with their Aussie Fullback Mark Kheirallah. Again - all dodgy translation is down to my lousy French and a bit of Google Translate (I think they use the word 'shock' as we would use the word 'Challenge').

Mark Kheirallah speaking on the possibility of a shock against Rochdale on Saturday.

After a first away trip in the Super 8 was very well negotiated against Doncaster ( 18-38 ), the Toulouse Olympique preparing its next home game, facing Rochdale Hornets , second in the ranking, this Saturday, August 20th at Stade Ernest-Argelès in Blagnac .

On this occasion, the TO XIII fullback Mark Kheirallah confided about his state of form , that of the team , and of this decisive shock to come.

Mark Kheirallah: Personally, I feel good. I am pleased to evolve in this championship with the team, opponents are strong but we are doing the job, allowing us to play our game and have fun. At this stage of the competition, I think it will be difficult to stop us. I am confident enough to think that because I have confidence in my team and in our work.

Can you repeat your last win against Doncaster which took place this weekend?

Mark Kheirallah: We knew it would be complicated and they would put in a performance against us. And they showed some good things, I found that there were really good players, who stuck to us for 80 minutes. They relied on their power and we had to work to keep them away until the end. We did the job.

This weekend, another big shock awaits the TO, this time at home against the Rochdale Hornets - how the group feels the approach of this meeting?

Mark Kheirallah: This is a game we all look forward to, and we look forward to it. The first time we had not done the job until the end, but this time we will make every effort to achieve it. In case of victory, we can ensure first place in the ranking of the Super 8, so this is a crucial game for the rest of the competition.

Is the preparation different for this kind of game at stake?

Mark Kheirallah: No. As usual, the drives are focused on small details that can turn the match in our favor. We focus on mistakes that could cost us previously and the elements of which we are not satisfied, easily rectifiable with work. Whatever our competitors, we want to do even better than last time, and this is especially true against Rochdale. We want to play at the highest level, and for this, it may work and rework on basic things, but fundamental.

In case of victory, the TO is assured of a place in the final at home. What is the feeling of the team deal with this?

Mark Kheirallah: We are all very excited to win this game. That would be really a real chance for the team to play a final at home, and to offer this show to our fans. Obviously, there is some pressure but we make sure to put it aside, or we use it to move forward. I think we have very smart players that do not get distracted, focused on their goals. Certainly we are a young team (Note: 23 years of average age) but we also have players with a lot of experience that make benefit the entire group. We will do the job to give us the chance to reach the Championship.

So ready for the end of the season?

Mark Kheirallah: Yes. After Rochdale, we will remain three games: two consecutive trips to London in Skolars (26/08) and then Hunslet (03/09), and a final home game against Barrow Raiders (10/09) which is the form team of the moment. It will take us to remain cautious although we are pleased that our work is paying off. We looking forward to September to see if we have fulfilled our deal and finally take a rest (laughs).

The game takes place at the at stadium Ernest Argelès in the suburb of Blagnac at 6pm.
The referee for Saturday's game is Jamie Bloem, with French touch judges.