Preview: Hemel Stags say au revoir to English shores to take on Toulouse
Hemel Stags make the trip to France this weekend to kick-off their 2016 Kingstone Press League 1 campaign against newboys Toulouse Olympique.
Toulouse got their league campaign off to a flying start by defeating Coventry Bears 54-6 last week.
Coach Sylvian Houles said: “I thought our first half against Coventry was pretty good. We looked in great shape; we built a lot of pressure, which was a reflection on us scoring the six tries.
“In the second half we were a little bit sloppy. We need to look at building more pressure to kill the game more easily. There are a few things to work on but overall it was a good performance for our first game in League 1.
“Against Hemel we need to build on our last performance, so we’re looking at fewer errors than we made against Coventry. Our field isn’t in the best condition at the moment so we need to work with the conditions to keep pressure on the opposition.”
After sitting out last week Hemel Stags kick off their league programme with a trip to France.
Their last game was a defeat to community club Kells in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Coach Troy Perkins said: “I probably would have preferred to play and try and improve on a few things. Having a bye in the first week of the season isn’t ideal; it’s probably better midway through the season, but it is what it is.
“I tried to organise a squad game, which unfortunately got cancelled, because I wanted the players to play again. They needed to improve in certain areas from the Kells game but the positive will be that they are that little bit fresher for having had the weekend off.
“I watched the tries Toulouse scored against Coventry, they’ve got very skilful offloads in the tackle and plenty of speed. Their full-back and their halves are very dangerous and very creative so they’ll cause some problems if you let them.
“We’ve got to be switched on but it’s a really good challenge for us and a good experience for all the players. I played for Toulouse for three years so it’s a fantastic opportunity to go back as a coach.
“They are one of the favourites, they’re full-time but we’ve just got to go there in the right frame of mind, put in a really good performance and come away knowing that we’ve performed to the standard I expect and we expect of ourselves.”