Toulouse on a mission to strengthen their squad

Toulouse Olympique are continuing to consolidate and strengthen their squad for Super League with Scotland international Matty Russell the latest addition at Stade Ernest Wallon.

The 28-year-old former Wigan, Warrington, Toronto and Leigh fullback or winger has signed an initial one-year deal at Stade Ernest Wallon and he is the third new recruit for coach Sylvain Houles as he builds his playing group for 2022.

Russell follows hooker James Cunningham and prop-forward Gadwin Springer into the Olympians’ squad as direct replacements for Rémi Casty, Bastien Ader and Jy Hitchcox, who have all departed since the French club gained promotion to the top flight.

“I’m very happy to have signed for Toulouse,” Russell said.

“The opportunity to play in France has always been an ambition of mine, I can’t wait to get started and meet the team and supporters.

“I have heard a lot of good things about this club and I like the philosophy of play instilled by Sylvain.

“I have spoken to him a lot and he really made me want to join the club and my family and I can’t wait to discover French culture.

“I’d like to thank Leigh Centurions; the fans were outstanding all year despite things not going our way.

“They have got great things going on there from top to bottom and I’m sure we will see them back in Super League in the near future.”

Meanwhile, Toulouse coach Houles is still looking for “two or three quality players” to strengthen his side for next year.

He told League Express, “It was very important to find replacements for the players who left and we are very pleased with our recent recruitment.

“We are continuing our activity in the market and there will be further additions to what is already an experienced and talented playing group.”

Toulouse last week promoted young French centre Hugo Pezet into the first-team squad and extended the contracts of two French internationals – Anthony Marion, who can play hooker, half-back or loose-forward, and prop forward Maxime Puech.

Club President Bernard Sarrazain said, “We are continuing to strengthen the squad, but it is also crucial that we build from within.

“Matty’s physical qualities and explosiveness complement our offensive range and I’m sure he will enjoy the open spaces of the pitch at Stade Ernest Wallon.

“The promotion of Hugo (Pezet) from our reserves is the way forward for this club; he embodies the new generation of players who will make French Rugby League shine in the coming years.

“And it was vital that we retained Anthony (Marion), as he has crossed all of the levels with this club from the French Championship to Super League. He is the ultimate competitor and an essential member of our squad.

“In Gadwin (Springer) we have a player who has all of the qualities and necessary experience to help us achieve our objectives and I am convinced that under the leadership of Sylvain he can go even further.”

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