TONY Gigot is ready to weather the vaccine-inspired chaos in Toulouse and inspire them to Super League survival after starting it all over again.
The French newcomers have lost captain Johnathon Ford after refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after the government made it compulsory for sports stars to have them.
The future of full-back Mark Kheirallah is also in doubt as the draconian measures across the Channel take their toll.
Gigot, however, stepped in as skipper for Olympique’s debut Super League campaign and for him it’s business as usual.
Much of this attitude is due to the fact that he returned to amateur rugby league with his friends in Avignon after being caught up in the mess of the Toronto Wolfpack’s collapse.
He now knows that despite everything that is happening at the club, in the end, he is just playing the game he loves again.
“When Toronto pulled out it was the start of Covid-19 and I didn’t know where I was going,” recalled Gigot, who picked up the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in the win. history of the Catalans in the final of the Challenge Cup 2018. and played at Wakefield in 2020.
“Last winter with the pandemic, being away from France was hard for me. So I came back to Avignon and played with my friends.
NEWS IN THE RUGBY LEAGUE
“The players were working all day and training two or three times a week but that made me happy.
“I just wanted to get back to playing and enjoying rugby league again. After Toronto and with Covid-19, my love went down a bit.
“It’s my passion, though, and it grew even more as I played alongside my friends and had fun with little pressure on results. It made me think about how lucky I was. , but I needed to surpass myself.
“The opportunity in Toulouse presented itself, I took it and now I’m back in the Super League.
“Losing Johnno was important, especially just before the start of the season, but as players we just have to take care of our own work, it’s the best thing we can do.
“Different things happen every year – whether it’s an injury or, as has happened in recent years, Covid-19.
“It was difficult to manage. We had to close as a club for four days at one point because we had too many cases. We trained alone but it’s the same everywhere in the world and we are lucky to do what we do.
The promotion of Toulouse, bringing the Super League to France’s fourth-largest city, was seen as a step in the right direction for the sport.
But in typical rugby league fashion, things got awkward. Now many believe Sylvain Houles’ men are relegation certainties.
However, despite the loss of big names in the team – and few recruitments – Gigot believes the talent and experience are still there to survive.
It could also see him retain the captain’s armband he had for his country’s defeat to England in October.
The 31-year-old, who can play full-back, semi-half or centre, added: “Johnno’s departure is an opportunity for another talented player to come in.
“We knew the season would be really tough anyway. We know that if we want to succeed in the Super League we will have to play a bit more broadly, but hopefully we can stay there for a few years.