Toulouse squad 'surprised' by Kolbe's departure
REACTION: France fullback Maxime Medard said the Toulouse squad was “surprised” by South Africa wing Cheslin Kolbe’s move to French Top 14 rivals Toulon.
Last week, the three-time European Cup winners announced Kolbe would be joining them this season, with two years left of his Toulouse contract.
Kolbe, 27, won the Top 14 twice as well as the Champions Cup alongside Medard at Stade Ernest-Wallon.
“The squad were a bit surprised but life goes on,” Medard told reporters.
“It’s part of the game. We know we’re in professional rugby and there can be a transfer anytime.
“It’s good for him, he deserves it. He gave everything for Toulouse,” he added.
— Cheslin Kolbe (@Cheslin_Kolbe11) August 27, 2021
According to reports in the French press the Mediterranean outfit paid a record 1.8 million euros (ZAR31 million) for Kolbe.
“There will always be people who criticise,” Medard said.
“A rugby player’s career is very short. As long as the players respect the team and give their all, why aren’t they allowed to change?” he added.
Medard backed 22-year-old wing Matthis Lebel, who scored 15 tries in 28 matches last season, to step into the void left by Kolbe.
“Toulouse remain an institution and the star is the team,” he said.
“There are great players, youngsters coming through, Matthis Lebel has stood out.
“There are a lot of options. We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves,” he added.
The 34-year-old made the last of his 63 Les Bleus appearances at the 2019 World Cup and will retire at the end of the campaign.
Toulouse’s set-up includes the likes of France halfbacks Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack as well as first-choice Test front-rowers Julien Marchand and Cyril Baille.
“My contract ends this season. I’m not getting worked up about it,” he said.
“I don’t want to say it’s over. Maybe in six months, I’ll want to say ‘I’m stopping, I’m cooked.’ We’ll see.
“I try and be active thinking about my post-career plans. You have to be aware that the new generation is stronger and that you have to leave.”
Toulouse start their league title defence by travelling to La Rochelle, who they beat in June’s final, on Sunday.