Mark Kheirallah on Toulouse Olympique exit and signing for Featherstone Rovers

Mark Kheirallah will continue his career at Featherstone Rovers after signing a contract to join the Championship’s promotion contenders with immediate effect.

The 32-year-old Australian fullback, whose contract has been terminated after ten years at Toulouse Olympique, will join coach Brian McDermott’s title-chasing squad this week.

Kheirallah’s time at Toulouse came to a controversial end as he ended up being fired by the club.

Speaking exclusively to League Express he said, “I can’t really comment now as the matter is in the hands of my lawyer. All I can say is that I had a ‘pass vaccinal’ and was allowed to play all the games of Super League this season and I just wasn’t picked by the coach.”

The fall-out between player and club has resulted in Kheirallah leaving the south of France and heading to West Yorkshire on an initial deal for the remainder of the season.

Kheirallah said, “The chance to join Featherstone is great and it gives me another chance to achieve promotion and help build another team up, which is what I’ve been doing for the past few years.

“I’m really excited about it.

“I haven’t met coach Brian McDermott face-to-face yet, but I’ve had really good discussions with him and I played against Toronto a few times while he was coach there, so I know what he’s looking for.”

Kheirallah said he was in good shape physically and mentally to resume playing, despite his last game being in October when Toulouse won the Championship Grand Final – against Featherstone.

He said, “I’m feeling pretty good; it’s been a rollercoaster couple of months but I’m level-headed in general, so I don’t let things get to me.

“For the last three months I’ve been concentrating on my physical and mental strength, just to cope with what was happening.”

He said his position on the vaccine was because of his “holistic lifestyle,” adding: “And I’ve no regrets, I am simply sticking to my morals and values, and living the way I want.

“Rugby League doesn’t last forever; I’ve got to think about the next ten to fifty years of life and what principles I want to pass on to my kids.

“So to make that decision wouldn’t have been hard. The question of the vaccine never happened to be a problem as I had COVID-19 at the time and wasn’t allowed to get a jab. I could have played since the beginning of the season.

“I didn’t mean it on purpose, but it’s obvious that I don’t want to end it like this.

“My plans have been thrown out of the window and everything tipped upon its head.

“But I want to go out on my own terms and showcase the type of person and player that I am.”

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