Houles looks for one more squad member

Newly-promoted Toulouse Olympique will add just one more player to their squad as they prepare to step up to Super League.

Coach Sylvain Houles has told League Express he is “more than happy” with his playing group for next season, which he believes is “already at Super League standards.”

The 40-year-old French coach has signed hooker James Cunningham, centre Chris Hankinson, winger or fullback Matty Russell and prop Gadwin Springer to replace the departed Bastien Ader, Jy Hitchcox and Rémi Casty and he will make one more addition before settling on a 28-man squad for the Olympians’ debut season in the top flight.

“The 27 players I have at the moment are at Super League level,” said Houles.

“Most of our players have Super League or international experience, so I am really pleased with the squad we have assembled.

“At the end of the day, we built a Super League squad last season just to make sure that we could gain promotion and they did exactly that.

“This squad has shown it can compete and be successful at the highest level. People might ask where our big-name signings are but we made them last year. Tony Gigot, Dom Peyroux, Joseph Paulo, Mitch Garbutt were all brought in and Lloyd White and Harrison Hansen were already here.

“These are the big-name signings, we already have them, and they have been brilliant for us.

“The new players we have brought in have also got experience at the top level and they will be given the chance to shine again in Super League at Toulouse.“We are confident, we are ready for the challenge, we have faced a lot of challenges on our journey to Super League and achieved every one of them.”

Houles is seeking a new forward following an Achilles tendon injury to former Catalans Dragons forward Lambert Belmas, who had been drafted in from Lézignan. The injury is potentially career-threatening, although Toulouse will honour his new contract and help the 24-year-old prop forward in his recovery process.

The switch from playing to a coaching role at the club for fellow prop Casty has left a gaping hole in the Olympians’ front row, although Houles expects to fill the gap this week as the club begins pre-season training today (Monday) at Stade Ernest Wallon.

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