By SEBASTIAN STERNIK
While some players have found it hard staying motivated during lockdown, Toulouse full-back Mark Kheirallah has been the complete opposite as he continues to work towards a possible resumption of the 2020 season.
“I actually spent a lot of time training,” said the 30-year-old when asked about his experience of the last three months.
“I spent almost everyday training. One of the boys (Johnathon Ford) lives with me in the same complex so we were able to train together this entire period. We both have been holding each other accountable and so we’re keeping each other motivated.”
Toulouse got off to a red-hot start in 2020 with five wins from their opening five games in the Championship. Nevertheless, Kheirallah doesn’t feel overly frustrated about the campaign coming to an unprecedented halt.
“That’s nothing I can control so I try not to worry about it,” he added.
“There’s not much I can do about it. We did get off to a good start and we have been working hard for a while now. It’s just another fork in the road really.
“I love playing so of course I would love to come back and play again. I’m really starting to miss it. I think this is the longest period I’ve gone without being able to train with the entire team or even play.”
Toulouse have been on the rise over the past few years and the club clearly have Super League on their radar. Kheirallah puts the team’s development down to the stability of the squad and the coaching staff.
He said: “It’s a good group of boys. There’s a few of us who have been here for a long time. But one of the biggest things is our coaching staff. They’re the ones who drive us to achieve great things.
“When we started off in that League 1 competition, we knew that the goal at the end of the road was Super League. I think year by year, we’re just trying to chip away and get closer and closer. We always just seem to just fall short.”
Toulouse came close to turning their Super League dream into reality last season. A second-placed finish saw them progress into the play-offs where they managed a win over York but then faced consecutive defeats to Toronto and then Featherstone.
Reflecting on that play-off run, Kheirallah said: “What we took away from last season’s play-off was, we need to be able to control our emotions a little bit more.
“When we went to Toronto, we were really high emotionally and then we had to come back and play Fev. I think we didn’t quite give it our all because we took so much into the game the week before.
“If you’re going to make Super League, you can’t do that. You have to try and be at the top of your level every week no matter what the game is and no matter where you’re travelling. Hopefully we’ve learnt from that and take that experience potentially into this year.”