Written by Zack Wilson
Photo by Alain Soula
Toulouse Olympique can still do better defensively, according to assistant coach Christophe Toustou.
Toustou, whose primary role at TO is defensive coaching, has been pleased, though, with the way that the French outfit have defended in 2019.
They have kept clean sheets in three games – away at Bradford Bulls, at home to Barrow Raiders and away at Dewsbury Rams – and have also kept their opponents pointless in four halves of matches.
“It’s always possible to do better,” said Toustou.
“We aim to finish the season as the best defence in the Championship.
“We will continue to work to get there. There are still small details to deal with individually or collectively. We can do better.
“The defence was again effective at the last game at Dewsbury, with a third clean sheet.
“That game was very satisfying because, due to the absence of several players, the team had to be overhauled, with two props, Jordan Dezatria and Joe Bretherton, who found themselves in the centres.
“Nevertheless, we remained perfectly calm, respected our defensive principles, we trusted each other and the result was there.”
The strength of TO in defence stems from their use of new systems which were put in place during the preseason period.
“After studying our performances from previous seasons, we wanted to take advantage of the offseason to set up a new defensive system, which was not necessarily easy to integrate to begin with,” Toustou explained.
“The first two matches showed that we were still learning, but we knew what to expect with the introduction of this new system.
“We have continued to work and we are beginning to reap the benefits today.”
Toustou knows that his team need to maintain their current focus too, with the standards in the Championship rising every season.
“It can be seen that the level of the Championship increases from year to year,” he said.
“Just look at the rankings, including the results of those promoted teams like Bradford or York.
“Everyone has strengthened well. This confirms that the accession to the Super League will not be easy.
“There are many clubs that work hard to finish in the top five and have a chance of promotion at the end of the season.
“We remain faithful to our philosophy of working only on the next game, and today we have something to do because the next deadline is the Summer Bash against Toronto Wolfpack, one of the most important games of the season.”
TO also trained with the local rugby union outfit Stade Toulousain last week, as they look to extract every marginal gain possible from their graft.
Their 38-0 win at Dewsbury last time out shows that this side can travel away from home and win, which it needs to do if it is to gain promotion to Super League.
But results like the loss at Sheffield at Easter show that there is still work to be done to sharpen up the team and maintain consistency.