We cannot mess it up – Toulon boss

Date published: May 29 2014

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has told his players they need to follow up their European Cup triumph by winning the Top 14.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has told his players they need to follow up their European Cup triumph by winning the Top 14 crown against Castres on Saturday.

Bernard Laporte's side crushed Saracens 23-6 in Cardiff last weekend to win their second consecutive European Cup and now have the chance to complete a domestic and European double.

“With all the respect I have for Castres, we cannot fail” said Boudjellal as his side look to avenge their defeat to the same opposition in the final of last season's competition.

“We are fully aware that last year we underestimated Castres and that they are a team who deserve to be taken seriously.

“They are the French champions, they are in the final once more, they have even knocked out Clermont and Montpellier who, for me, were two of the favourites.”

Nevertheless, Boudjellal is steadfast in his determination to deliver the double for the fans, as well as for fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who will retire after Saturday's final.

“We cannot mess it up,” the Toulon boss insisted, “we have given hope to plenty of people and we must not disappoint them. And then it will be Jonny Wilkinson's final match.

“I dont know if this will be the biggest trophy that we win at Toulon but it will be the most moving.”

Wilkinson signed off his professional career on British soil with a typically clinical kicking display in Toulon's comprehensive defeat of Saracens and the French side are determined to learn from last year's disappointment, when they were unable to add to their maiden European Cup.

As well as employing more squad rotation than last season, Toulon are welcoming back players at key times from injury and reaping the rewards of innovative methods of recovery, such as Cryotherapy.

This is a process which involves spending three minutes at around 140 degrees below freezing.

“I don't know how you can measure its effects but I am feeling good,” claimed Argentine back row Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

The European champions have also employed fitness coach Paul Stridgeon, who has previously worked with England and the British and Irish Lions, but Pierre Mignoni, the club's backs coach, insists that there is no secret to their continued success.

“We haven't changed anything. Paul is just here more. A lot of it is mental because I can assure you that the players are tired!”

Alongside Wilkinson, Saturday's clash will be the final game in the careers of South Africans Danie Rossouw and Joe van Niekerk, with Boudjellal recently revealing an extravagant recruitment plan to keep Toulon at the top of the European game.

“In a year's time [after the 2015 world cup], I will try to pull off the biggest thing I have ever done,” he told L'Equipe.

“I have an idea in my head, a crazy idea, that I am going to try to realise. There are a 'Fantastic Four' in the rugby world and I would like to pull off a Grand Slam by bringing them in.”

Although the Toulon boss avoided naming any names, L'Equipe said that contacts had already been made to try and bring New Zealand fly half Dan Carter to the club, with his compatriots Ma'a Nonu, Richie McCaw and Sonny Bill Williams also being touted as possible targets. Australian playmaker Quade Cooper is understood to be the club's preferred choice should a deal to sign Carter fail.