FRENCH club Toulouse Olympique’s move to the British leagues has been a bonus for Sheffield Eagles.
Over the last two years the teams have met five times in the Championship and the Challenge Cup with the Eagles winning every time.
That record will face its biggest challenge when Toulouse come to Bramall Lane on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
“Toulouse are a better team this season,” said Eagles coach Mark Aston. “They’ve qualified for the Northern Rail Cup knockout rounds and have looked strong.
“We’re beaten them in the past but it’ll be tough at the weekend - we’ve started to put things together in the last couple of games and we have to build on that.”
The past two years have seen the French team learn some hard lessons. Coach Gilles Dumas believes this season could be the one Olympique achieve their breakthrough target of a top-six finish and a place in the Grand Final play-offs.
Dumas won’t be short of inside information with two of his major signings from the Eagles, in hooker Craig Cook and back row forward Ged Corcoran.
The Eagles’ decision not to offer Cook a new contract after a season when he was the club’s top try scorer with 20 still has some supporters baffled. Aston and his coach team felt that the experienced Andrew Henderson offered a better all-round option, particularly at the ruck.
Aston added: “Defensively we were a lot stronger at York and prevented them scoring after the first 20 minutes. It’s always good to get the first win but we won’t get carried away. We’re at Bramall Lane and we’ve got to make home advantage pay.”