Fabien Galthié: "Both the players and the teams are expected"
The Toulon manager attended the pre-game press conference, last Friday, ahead of the opening game of the European Champions Cup against Scarlets, at the Stade Mayol.
Fabien, how are you feeling as a coach just before the start of the European campaign?
It’s true that it’s something different. Of course, it’s the most prestigious of the European Cups. The level, the rhythm, the teams are one step higher: in those games, we’re not far from the international level. It was quite a long week and we just adapted our preparation, in order to be as fit as possible for this game. But I don’t really feel any difference within the squad in the way we prepare for the game. The commitment and the concentration are the same.
Do you intend to go all the way to the final?
What we intend to do is to prepare for this game as best as possible, to train properly during the week, to be as accurate as possible in the physical preparation and in our game plan. We have to cope with the injuries sustained by a few key players – notably physical ones like Duane [Vermeulen], Samu [Manoa] or Romain [Taofifenua]. I’m not trying to look ahead, I don’t want to know who could be picked as favourites, I don’t want to think about a possible victory. I’m concentrating on Sunday’s game at the Stade Mayol and, should we make progress in the competition, everything will come in its own time. If we don’t do what is required on Sunday, we won’t be able to go further. So, let’s start with playing a high-level game on Sunday.
What do you think about the Scarlets team?
It is top-notch. They won the Pro 12 league last season, they’ve won five of their last six games and they had put up a string of impressive victories last year – against Munster in the semi-final and against Leinster in the final. Almost half of the Wales team plays for Scarlets. Both the players and the teams are expected in front of the whole people of Toulon. As for us, we’ll have to see how far we’ve gone and the Toulon people will support us. I see it like this and I hope the players do as well.
According to you, is there a pecking order between the Top 14 and the European Cup?
From the moment you sign a contract with a club, you commit yourself to the club and to yourself. When one has the fantastic opportunity of playing in the two competitions, one doesn’t ask oneself such questions. We have a precise way of working: what we do every day, how we prepare physically, everything is taken into account. And that’s how we’re making progress. We’ll see how it goes.
How is it possible to put an end to the blips the team has gone through in the second halves?
At the end of the first half, we’ll try to adapt our playing style, thinking about the second half as well. We’ll try not to go through such blips, which stem from many factors – notably, what happens at the end of the first half. Somehow, this enables us to look ahead to the second one.