Toulouse Olympique in turmoil with two more departures expected

Toulouse Olympique are facing two more departures following the shock loss of captain Johnathon Ford.

Full-back Mark Kheirallah and assistant coach Greg White are understood to be following Ford through the exit door at Stade Ernest Wallon because of their stance on vaccination rules in France.

Current government legislation prohibits sporting employment in France without full anti-Covid vaccination, leaving anti-vaxxers Ford, Kheirallah and White with no choice but to leave and pursue their careers in the UK or Australia.

Ford said he was fully aware of the difficulties his decision has created for the club but that the current rules in France had made it impossible for him and his family to live the life they want.

Vaccination passes are essential in France for most social activities and there are severe restrictions for anyone who hasn’t been inoculated against Covid.

Toulouse’s turmoil took a turn for the worse on Saturday when French international centre Matthieu Jussaume had to be helped from the pitch in a pre-season trial game in Perpignan (Catalans Dragons won 26-10).

Under-siege coach Sylvain Houles said, “It looks like an ankle injury for Mathieu unfortunately. You could see that he rolled it pretty bad.”

Toulouse are trying desperately to recruit new players to strengthen their now-26-man squad but Houles is refusing to press the panic button.

He said, “Of course, we need to bring in new players but as always, they will only be the right players for us.

“The last thing we need to do is jump into signing any kind of player just to make up the numbers.

“Whoever we recruit will have to bring something positive into the group.”

Asked directly whether he thought 31-year-old Kheirallah would play again for the club, Houles said, “I’m not sure. We are working on that and at this stage we really don’t know what will happen next.”

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