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Five Massive Players Set To Leave Toulon This Summer

Toulon look to be entering a transitional phase.

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After lifting their third consecutive European Cup in 2015, it seemed as though Toulon were an unstoppable force set to dominate northern hemisphere club rugby for years to come.

Indeed, at the beginning of this campaign, Toulon were celebrating the capture of Ma’a Nonu, Quade Cooper, Paul O’Connell, and Duane Vermeulen.

However this season has not gone to plan for Mourad Boudjellal’s side, with Nonu and Cooper failing to live up to expectation, and O’Connell forced to retire before he could take up residence in the south of France.

As a result, when Diego Dominguez replaces Bernard Laporte at the Stade Mayol this summer, he will be taking over a club that is entering a transitional phase.

A difficult task for Dominguez, who has no experience of top level coaching, despite the vast resources available to him.

The veteran Italian flyhalf will also have to deal with a number of high profile players leaving the club this summer.

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Quade Cooper

Australia v South Africa - The Rugby Championship

Despite spending much of last summer chasing Quade Cooper, Toulon are set to part ways with the Australian fly half after only one season.

Since arriving at the Stade Mayol, Cooper has been unable to string together a series of consistent performances.

His form had dipped to such an alarming level that Mourad Boudjellal described Cooper’s performances as being not ‘at the level for which we have recruited’.

As a result, it now seems that Cooper will return to the Queensland Reds this summer, despite reported interest from a number of Premiership clubs.

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Juan Smith

ASM Clermont Auvergne v RC Toulon - European Rugby Champions Cup Final

 

After announcing his retirement due to injury in February 2013, Mourad Boudjellal convinced Juan Smith to join Toulon later that year.

Since then he has enjoyed a period of remarkable success with the French club, winning two European Cups and a Top 14 title. However it looks as if his time at the Stade Mayol maybe coming to an end.

Nevertheless, it is a testament to his enduring quality of the 34 year old that La Provence this week claimed clubs such as Toulouse, Montpellier and Racing 92 are interested in signing the South African.

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[tie_slide] Steffon Armitage

BATH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23: Steffon Armitage of RC Toulon scores a try during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Bath Rugby and RC Toulon at Recreation Ground on January 23, 2016 in Bath, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images).

 

This time last year the English media were demanding the inclusion of Steffon Armitage in Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup squad.

However, despite the demands of both commentators and fans, the former European player of the year did not feature at the tournament due to England’s selection policy.

Nevertheless, England fans got very excited when rumours of interest from Wasps circulated and Boudjellal let it be known that Armitage was set to leave the club at the end of the season.

Although many expected to see Armitage ply his trade in the Premiership, it now looks as if he will join Pau this summer.

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Maxime Mermoz

Toulon v Saracens - Heineken Cup Final

 

Since joining Toulon in 2012, Maxime Mermoz has become an important player at the Stade Mayol.

However, despite making 75 appearances for the club, according to L’Equipe, the 35 times capped French international will be leaving Toulon this summer.

Given that Mermoz has to compete against Ma’a Nonu, Matt Giteau and Mathieu Bastareaud for a starting place, this does not come as too much of a surprise.

Nevertheless, Mermoz has been one of Toulon’s most consistent players over the last number of years, and is seen by many as an unsung hero.

As a result, Bordeaux Begles are rumoured to be interested in signing the centre.

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Konstantin Mikautadze

Barbarians Portrait Shoot

 

Although Konstantin Mikautadze may not be a household name, he was one of the most in demand locks in the Top 14 when his contract came up for renewal earlier this season.

Standing at 6 ft 7 in tall and weighing 125 Kg, Mikautadze’s signing was seen as a coup for Montpellier.

Indeed, as the 42 times capped Georgian international is only 24 years of age, Mikautadze’s best years remain ahead of him.

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Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.