After Toulon’s Heineken Cup victory last month their enigmatic owner Mourad Boudjellal claimed that he will sign “the four best players in the world’ in the next year. He deemed these signings “the fantastic four” but refused to speculate on who these players might be.
However reports emerged last week in France suggesting that Wallabies full back Israel Folau could be the first to defect to the south coast of France, although at this stage this is just speculation. However with the World Cup next year it seems a perfectly viable option that Folau and several other Southern Hemisphere stars could be on their way to Toulon.
Based on this fact and the positions where Toulon appear to be “in need of reinforcement” here are several players who could be set to join Boudjellal’s superstars;
This one kind of goes without saying really given the reports mentioned above. Since converting from League, Folau has been a sensation in Super Rugby and on the international stage. There is no doubting that he would be considered one of the best players in the world by Boudjellal, although at just 25 Folau may be in no rush to give up international rugby. In addition to this Toulon already have a host of talented full backs so it is hardly an area of weakness within the team.
Likelihood – 7/10
At 32 and on another sabbatical from the All Blacks, Carter is nearing the end of his career and could see Toulon as the perfect way to end his stellar career. After the World Cup next year it seems likely Carter will stand aside to let one of the younger fly halves take over the reigns which means he would have very little to keep him in New Zealand rugby wise. The lure of a huge pay day and the chance to right the wrongs of his last foray into French rugby may just persuade Carter to make the move to Toulon.
Likelihood – 9/10
Bismarck du Plessis
The Springbok hooker has established himself as one of the most foremost front rowers in world rugby over the last couple of years and would be an ideal player for Toulon in a position that has been problematic. Given du Plessis was close to joining Toulon a few years ago, and the Springboks policy of selecting players based overseas it seems quite possible du Plessis could be set to join fellow South African Bryan Habana on the south coast next year.
Likelihood – 9/10
There is no doubting that Kieran Read would fall into the bracket of “world class” having won the IRB Player of the Year aware last season after a stellar season for club and country. There is also no doubting that he would be a great acquisition for Toulon, however the issue lies in the fact that he is just 28. If he can maintain his current form he would be capable of playing on until the 2019 World Cup in Japan, unless he came to Toulon on sabbatical.
Likelihood – 4/10
McCaw will be in a similar position to Dan Carter come the end of the World Cup next year, and at 34 may consider one last season in the sunny climes of Toulon an ideal option before retiring. McCaw is another player who would no doubt fit into the “World Class’ bracket and Toulon have shown time and again that they are capable of keeping players fit well into their 30’s. Unlike Carter however McCaw has never played outside of New Zealand so may be happy to settle into retirement and a likely coaching position.
Likelihood – 3/10
The Namibian captain has been a key player for Saracens this season as he helped his side to the finals of both the Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership. Burger has had no end of injury issues over the years however has managed to string together a number of appearances for Saracens this summer and has re-emerged as one of the foremost openside flankers in the world. The biggest question however would be over whether Burger is willing to leave Saracens as he seems to genuinely love his current club.
Likelihood – 3/10
Fofana has emerged as one of the most exciting talents in French rugby in recent years for both club and country and could be high on Boudjellal’s list. The fact Fofana is French will make him a preferred acquisition in order to ensure the Toulon team contains enough domestic players. The issue however is that Fofana would have to move from one of Toulon’s biggest rivals Clermont, although he may be tempted by the improved prospect of silverware on the French south coast.
Likelihood – 5/10
Over the years Italian captain Sergio Parisse has been one of the most consistent stand-out players in world rugby in often under performing sides. Another disappointing season in the French capital for Stade may just persuade Parisse that it is time for a change of scene in order to improve his chance of silverware as his career draws to an end. The likelihood of increased rotation prolonging his career in addition to an improved pay cheque may be enough to persuade him Toulon is his best option.
Likelihood – 6/10
Who do you think is likely to be Toulon’s “Fantastic Four”?