By John Fallon
Toulouse’s new captain Julien Marchand is hoping to crown a week where he was called into the French senior squad for the first time by ousting European champions Leinster on Sunday.
The 23-year old hooker was handed the captaincy of Toulouse during the summer following the retirement of Florian Fritz and he is confident they can have a right crack at Leinster on Sunday.
Marchand, who came up through the Toulouse academy system and who was capped by France at U20 level, is now poised to make his senior debut this autumn when France take on South Africa, Argentina, and Fiji.
Marchand, who made his Top 14 debut four years ago, will battle with France captain Guilhem Guirado and Racing’s Camille Chat for game-time. But first up is an opportunity to take down champions Leinster, as the only two sides to win Europe’s premier event four times go to battle on Sunday at Stade Ernest Wallon.
“We are under pressure because we are at home and we will be expected to perform and hopefully get the win.
“Leinster are champions and we know we will need a big performance to beat them. They are a strong side but we are also improving all the time,” said Marchand.
Toulouse, unlike some other French sides, have always treated Europe seriously, right from winning the first Heineken Cup in 1996, adding further titles in 2003, 2005 and 2010.
Marchand, whose brother Guillaume was hooker for France in winning this year’s U20 World Cup and has signed for Toulouse as well, said they were targeting Champions Cup success this year.
Four wins and a draw in their seven Top 14 games set them up for a Champions Cup win away to Bath last weekend and Marchand admits Leinster’s scalp would be a big one. “Every year we go out to do well in this competition. We have a proud history in it and we want to maintain that and make a bid for the title.
“We now have a chance to take on the champions in what should be a great game and hopefully we can do enough to win it,” he added.