Toulon ready for Euro challenge

2015-11-19 17:25
Juan Smith (Gallo Images)

Toulon - Toulon captain Juan Smith says his team are eager to put last week's Paris terror attacks behind them as they finally get their European Champions Cup campaign underway.

Toulon's clash with Bath at their Stade Mayol home ground was called off last weekend as all sport in France was suspended following the deadly attacks that saw 129 people killed and hundreds more injured.

South African Smith said it was a difficult experience for his team but now they're just eager to get on with playing away to Wasps on Sunday.

"What happened in Paris isn't a typical week for everyone in France," said the 34-year-old former Springbok.

"It didn't do us any favours not to play the game against Bath. There is a bit of pressure on us going into this game but we're up for the challenge so we're looking forward to it."

The back row forward, who has been capped 70 times by his country, said that no matter how shocking the events in Paris were, he and his teammates simply have to get on with their livelihood.

"How can you react? It was a big tragedy what happened in Paris, but we put it behind us and we need to look at the next game against Wasps.

"We still don't know what the outcome (will be) of that game (against Bath) -- are we going to play it in midweek or just share the points?

"So we're still waiting for that but it was a shock for everyone at Mayol, getting ready for the captain's run when we got the news (that the game was off).

"It was very upsetting news (the attacks) but it's a professional era and we need to put that behind us and look forward to the next game."

Many may have been surprised by Wasps' dominant 33-6 victory at three-time champions Leinster last weekend but Smith says he wasn't one of them.

"No, I wasn't surprised; they're a quality side," he said.

"They played really well on the day, going over to Leinster and winning.

"That's put more pressure on us, going away, to get our first win on the road."

Smith also spared a thought for All Black legend Jonah Lomu, who died unexpectedly on Wednesday aged just 40, following a long battle against a kidney illness.

"I started playing Super 12s in 2003 and played one game against Jonah Lomu when he was playing for the Hurricanes," said Smith, who started his career at the Cheetahs.

"But the legacy that Jonah left behind: I remember the 1995 World Cup was in South Africa, that was the first time he came on the scene and made a huge impression on world rugby.

"Just the legacy he's leaving is awesome and he must be the face of world rugby -- he was an awesome player, very physical, very big."

Read more on:    toulon  |  juan smith  |  rugby


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