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Wakefield vs TO XIII – Samy MASSELOT’s Interview

Ahead of the match against the Wakefield Wildcats this Sunday, The Toulouse Olympique XIII and Samy MASSELOT are aiming for an historical win, in order to access to the quarterfinal of the legendary Challenge Cup. Against one of the in-form team of Super League, the task will certainly not be easy.

Part of the team last big win against Leigh, the Championship’s leader, in the previous round, the “Olympian” Prop, who had a stint for Wakefield in 2010, is 100% focused on this no-room-for–mistake match. He tells us more about the TO’s approach to this big date and the issues at stake for the club in case of victory.

Samy MASSELOT - Photo credit Patrick BATARD

First, can you present yourself and tell us what makes this match against Wakefield so special for you ?
Samy MASSELOT : Samy MASSELOT, 27 years old, 1m87, 105 kilos, winger at my debut (when I was not the ball boy), I ended up prop, certainly due to my finesse… or not!
Regarding this match, it has a specific meaning for me, since I had the pleasure to wear the Wildcats’ shirt for one Super League match, under the John Kear’s era (coach in 2010). After that, I played in their reserve team. It was a great experience which ended suddenly, because of a change of head coach for the following season.

What have been the key words for the preparation of such an important match ?
Samy MASSELOT : Wakefield is a side used to the must-win matches and they are not impressed by the high stakes, so we will have to remain cautious without restraining our game. We are therefore working on all the small details that make the difference between a League One side and a Super League side, and we base our strategy on an unbreakable defense. Generally speaking, we approach each match with a philosophy of effectiveness in our game, what leads us to take advantage as much as we can of every opportunity. Whoever we are facing, we have the ambition to put on a great show and deliver a great performance. And this is with this state of mind that we will face the Wildcats. We believe in ourselves, and the goal is clear: the victory.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Wildcats ?
Samy MASSELOT : Wakefield has been unstable these past years, the team has to deal with a lot of changes within the coaches and the players. However, this season, this team looks sharper, well structured around a strong pack with experienced players like, for example, the French international prop Mickaël SIMON. We will have to stay focus against these players who know how to play fast and well. Currently Wakefield holds a serie of good results, with 6 victories over their last 7 matches (Editor’s note: the Wakefield Wildcats are currently ranked 7 in the Super League). The team will come up on Sunday with a lot of confidence. Moreover, the Challenge Cup provides a different environment compared to Super League and it gives the opportunity for sides which might not directly be aiming at the Super League title, to make a statement and beat the big teams. So you can expect the Wildcats to come really well-prepared for this match.

According to you, what could be the assets for the TO to end up victorious against Wakefield ?
Samy MASSELOT : The main force of the TO is without a doubt our team and its spirit. We have been building this team without major change for the past three years. We do not have any “Star” players, our unity as a group is our force. And by “our group”, I mean the whole club. We all work together in the same direction (the managers, the staff, the players, the volunteers), and we can rely on each other. And you can feel the dynamic of this unity at every level, including with our performance on the field.

With this high stakes, how are you going to manage the pressure ?
Samy MASSELOT : Right now, we are very focused on our preparation for this match, the pressure might come a bit later. With this match against Wakefield, we have nothing to lose but everything to prove. The group is really happy and excited to play this match. Personally, I could have approached it like a way to get a personal revenge, but I ‘d rather remind to myself that this is a really important test for the team and the entire club. We want to prove that the project of the TO XIII in Super League is solid and concrete, and the best way to prove it is on the field.

To conclude, how do you approach the rest of the competition for this season ?
Samy MASSELOT : It will be without a doubt a tough competition. We know now that we are not going to be always welcome, but we do not pay that much attention to this. Whether the conditions are difficult or not, we will give everything to get where we want to be: to play in the Championship next year.