Boudjellal wants a turnaround from Toulon

Toulon have had millions invested in them by comic book magnate Mourad Boudjellal, however their performances in recent weeks have been anything but entertaining.

As a result, Boudjellal will be looking for a vast improvement from them when they travel to 2009 Top 14 champions Perpignan on Thursday.

Three successive defeats have taken the gloss off a promising start to their second season among the elite and manager Philippe Saint Andre has taken them to Perpignan for a freshening up session ahead of their match against a side who have not won their previous two matches.

However, Perpignan go into this encounter knowing they put up a great fight against Toulouse before going down 38-29 and then drawing 18-18 with in-form Racing-Metro last Friday.

Saint Andre, though, will be seeking to halt his side’s collapse and gain a morale boosting victory ahead of a month long hiatus as the autumn test series intervenes.

But even the usually enthusiastic former France winger was sounding somewhat resigned and that he couldn’t wait for the break to come.

“The break will do us good, as we will be able to regroup and work on our tactics,” said Saint Andre, who has seen his side ship more than 40 points in both the European Cup match against Munster and in the Top 14 clash with Toulouse in the past month.

“We will also be able to work on our fitness. And also we can be happy that having had so many away matches we will have many more at home after the break.”

Toulon hooker Sebastien Bruno is determined that he and his team-mates emerge from the match with their heads held high.

“We are going to try and come out of the Perpignan match with something for us to be proud about,” said Bruno.

“We know it is going to be difficult, but we must. We hear a lot of things about ourselves and especially when the results are bad all the old stories — such as that we are a group of mercenaries.

“But we know what we’re worth and that we have pride in oursevles when we play for the club.”

Perpignan will welcome back star centre Maxime Mermoz after he was absent for the last two matches through injury but there are serious doubts whether Gavin Hume will have recovered from a shoulder injury.

The hosts — who are the only side in the Top 14 yet to garner a bonus point — will again look to fullback Jerome Porical to rack up the points with his boot, an ability which has probably got him the nod for the national squad for the November tests ahead of Toulouse’s more flamboyant Clement Poitrenaud.

Toulouse top the standings after two superb performances in the victory over Perpignan and then the crushing 44-5 demolition of Toulon and will fancy their chances of inflicting similar pain on ailing tailenders Bourgoin.

While Toulouse will have to do without Jean Bouilhou and Census Johnston, who are out injured, they will welcome back flashy Fijian back Vilimoni Delesau.

Montpellier have been the surprise package of the early part of the season and are just a point adrift of Toulouse and will be confident of staying that way as they host Brive.

They will have to beat their opponents, though, without the services of France’s Six Nations Grand Slam winning fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc, who on Tuesday was ruled out for six weeks because of a torn right hamstring. He will be replaced by Argentinian Santiago Fernandez.

Fixtures (all kick-offs 1800GMT unless stated):

Perpignan v Toulon,
Agen v Racing-Metro,
Biarritz v Castres,
Stade Francais v Bayonne,
Montpellier v Brive,
La Rochelle v Clermont,
Bourgoin v Toulouse (2000)

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