Toulon manager Bernard Laporte threatened to forfeit next weekend’s Top 14 clash against Castres over concerns for his players’ safety.
Toulon manager Bernard Laporte on Sunday threatened to forfeit next weekend’s Top 14 clash against Castres over concerns for his players’ safety.
The big-spending European and French champions will be without many first team players, who will be involved in the November Tests for their respective countries.
And Laporte said he was not willing to send an under-prepared young team to challenge the side they beat in last season’s Top 14 final.
“If we can forfeit the match, we’ll forfeit it. Personally, that doesn’t bother me,” said the former France coach after his side went top of the league with a nine-try 61-28 thrashing of Grenoble.
Castres dropped to the bottom after their defeat at Brive on Saturday.
“Take five points and we’ll have none but I prefer that to having two serious injuries. I’m not kidding,” added Laporte, whose main concern is around his front row.
Jean-Charles Orioli will be his only available hooker as Guilhem Guirado has been called up by France and South African Craig Burden has a pectoral injury.
Italian tighthead prop Martin Castrogiovanni is suspended, Levan Chilachava will be playing for Georgia while New Zealander captain Carl Hayman is injured.
Only Karim Bougherara is available at tighthead and the 25-year-old played his first six minutes in the Top 14 against Grenoble.
It means Toulon would be forced to play young players in the physically demanding front row.
Laporte wants the French League (LNR) to foot the bill to insure his players against injury.
“Three weeks ago I phoned (LNR president) Paul Goze to ask him for a League document because we’ll be obliged to play youngsters and if something happens to them, I don’t want to be responsible,” fumed Laporte.
“I won’t go to Castres if I don’t have a document signed by the League that says if there’s a problem with the youngsters, they’ll take responsibility.
“Right now, we don’t have two young players in those positions (hooker and tight-head) with the ability to play in the first team. We’ll take them by default and that’s where it becomes dangerous.”
Toulon’s star-studded squad includes the likes of South Africans Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha, as well as Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny and France centre Mathieu Bastareaud, all of whom will spend the next three weeks representing their countries.
It means right across the pitch they will be shorn of world class players.
However, they will still be able to call on the likes of former All Black lock Ali Williams, former England international brothers Steffon and Delon Armitage, not to mention former Wallabies James O’Connor and Drew Mitchell.