Written by John Davidson
Mitch Garbutt believes Toulouse Olympique can beat the drop and defy those tipping them for immediate relegation this season.
Toulouse are entering Super League for the first time after winning promotion by beating Featherstone in last year’s Million Pound Game.
The bookmakers, and most judges in rugby league, are expecting the French side to find the step up in divisions difficult, with many expecting them to playing back in the Championship in 2023.
But Garbutt, who joined Toulouse in 2021, is confident his team has the talent and experience to flout those outside predictions.
🚨 @DragonsOfficiel v TO XIII : ouverture de la billetterie et annonce du coup d'envoi 🚨
Toutes les infos ici : https://t.co/sg6Yj0Wfkj
Rendez-vous le 29 janvier 🤗 pic.twitter.com/QCVCWesVXg
— Toulouse Olympique XIII (@TOXIII) January 13, 2022
“I think we can prove them wrong,” he told Everything Rugby League.
“As a team we are not going into this season looking at the bottom of the table.
“The team has got grand final and Challenge Cup winners in it, and it’s full of French internationals as well as players that have played a few hundred games of Super League.
“There’s experience across the board so we are not thinking about relegation.”
The 32-year-old said proving the naysayers wrong will give him no extra motivation this year.
“Not really to be honest,” he admitted.
“What someone else thinks about my team or myself doesn’t really motivate me. I can’t speak for everyone but it’s definitely not a driving factor for me.
“It will be fun to shock a few people though.”
Ҫa work hard mais ça sourit beaucoup quand même, tu sens que c'est bientôt le week-end ! 😏
Retour en images sur l'entraînement de ce matin 💪
— Toulouse Olympique XIII (@TOXIII) January 14, 2022
Garbutt has spent the past six years playing in the northern hemisphere after joining Leeds from the Brisbane Broncos in 2015.
The former Melbourne Storm prop won two Super League grand finals, a Challenge Cup and a League Leader’s Shield with the Rhinos before signing for Hull KR in 2019.
He helped Toulouse achieve promotion in his first campaign for TO XIII.
Garbutt said pre-season for Toulouse, ahead of the Super League season starting in February, has so far gone to plan.
“We have had a pretty good pre-season and not too many people missing for sessions, which is important,” he said.
“We are looking for a good start and making Stade Ernest a tough place to come to play.
“If we achieve those things we will be in for an exciting year.”
France has recently been awarded hosting rights to the 2025 World Cup, and the Australian front-rower feels it could be huge for the sport in the European country.
“It’s such a big chance for the game to really grow,” he said.
“Leading into a World Cup in a few years, there’s time to unearth some genuine French superstars and really pump time and money into what will hopefully be a huge spectacle.”