Planet Rugby

Harinordoquy rejuvenated in Toulouse

02nd July 2014 10:10


Toulouse recruits Imanol Harinordoquy Alexis Palisson Toby Flood and Neemia Tialata

New kids on the block: Imanol Harinordoquy, Alexis Palisson and Toby Flood

Former France loose forward Imanol Harinordoquy says his move from Biarritz to Toulouse has left him feeling like a schoolboy.

At 34, the veteran back rower in nearing the end of a glittering career but still has plenty to offer the four-time European champions, whom he joins alongside fellow new recruits Toby Flood, Alexis Pallison, Neemia Tialata and Corey Flynn.

The 77-cap international spent 11 seasons with Biarritz, but his last two years were ruined by a rotten run of injuries and the Basque club's woeful form which saw them relegated at the end of the Top 14 season.

Hence the Bayonne-born Harinordoquy's move to Toulouse, who also failed to fire on all cylinders last term, missing the domestic semi-finals to the first time in two decades.

"To find myself here is strange, but in the good sense of the word," he said.

"I wanted a change, to find a last big challenge, a real test for me, to arrive a little bit like a youngster who has changed school: to meet new mates, a new teacher, a new school; to have my eyes opened wide.

"It might seem a little strange because I've got 15 years of rugby behind me but it's that which I craved."

But new "school mates" aside, Harinordoquy said his choice to move to Toulouse was driven by a motivation to go after trophies.

"It's one of the reasons I wanted to join Toulouse," he admitted.

"To come into a team that is ruthlessly ambitious and doesn't want to be happy with the season it's just put together.

"I really like that type of spirit. In this club there's everything you need to go hunting for a title.

"It's maybe more complicated today with the teams that can do it, but I know it's possible."

Harinordoquy has some form when it comes to winning titles, having won the Top 14 twice (2005, 2006), and then featuring for France in five Six Nations victories (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010), which included three Grand Slams (2002, 2004, 2010).

Also in the trophy cabinet is the 2012 Challenge Cup for Biarritz, and also losing finalist medals from two European Cups in 2006 and 2010.

"I'm coming off two very tricky seasons," the loose forward acknowledged in reference to having played only 26 Top 14 games in the last 24 months.

"I also mulled over the possibility of ending my career. But I said to myself I couldn't end it on a season like that.

"Now I want to enjoy myself once again on the pitch, playing matches once more. I'm not going further than that. I'm thinking about tomorrow morning's physical session."

  • Top 14 Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:00
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:00
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Recent Results
All times are local
Top 14
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Friday , September 19
Brive 13 - 53 ToulonBrive vs Toulon Report
Sunday , September 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
Saturday , September 13
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
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  • Top 14 Table
Overall 2014
Top 14 Table
1Clermont Auvergne623
5Racing Metro Paris617