Olympic champion Wainiqolo 'needs more possession' after Toulon debut loss

Paris (AFP) –


Toulon head coach Patrice Collazo said Jiuta Wainiqolo needs to see more ball to show what he is capable of after the Fiji Olympic gold medallist made his club debut in Sunday's 41-10 defeat at Toulouse.

Wainiqolo, 22, arrived in France 10 days ago after winning the sevens tournament in Japan in July but was unable to stop the champions from taking top spot from Racing 92, who had beaten La Rochelle 24 hours earlier.

"When he has the ball he's capable of doing interesting things. But, you have to get the ball to him," said Collazo.

"We saw in just two moves that he can find space, especially on one example. He's like other players, he depends on the whole team. Having players like him is good, but you need a team around them."

Ugo Mola, head coach of the record 21-time league winners, named new signing Anthony Jelonch, who stepped in for Charles Ollivon as France captain in July's Test series defeat to Australia, on the bench for his maiden appearance.

Collazo also handed 21-year-old Harrison Obatoyinbo his club debut on the opposite wing to Wainiqolo.

Three-time European champions Toulon were rewarded for a good start as Les Bleus fly-half Louis Carbonnel kicked a fifth-minute penalty.

The momentum swung two minutes later as USA hooker Mike Sosene-Feagai was shown a yellow card for elbowing Lucas Tauzin.

The hosts, who also won a record fifth European title last season, led 8-3 after No. 8 Selevasio Tolofua crashed over just before the 10-minute mark.

Wainiqolo showed his ability with ball in hand just after the opening quarter as he broke 40 metres upfield.

- Ramos up to 1,000 points -

His side failed to profit from the opportunity before trailing 20-3 at the break as 26-year-old Thomas Ramos, who crossed the 1,000-point mark for the club during the match, then Zach Holmes thanks to a 90-metre interception scored for Mola's side.

Thomas Ramos has made 14 France appearances since his 2019 Test debut
Thomas Ramos has made 14 France appearances since his 2019 Test debut FRED SCHEIBER AFP

They continued their dominance in the second half and were helped by a second Toulon yellow card as lock Brian Alainu'uese was penalised for an early tackle.

Flanker Alban Placines, winger Matthis Lebel and replacement hooker Peato Mauvaka all crossed in the second half for Toulouse as they secured top spot, and a second win in as many games of the new campaign.

Wainiqolo's fellow close-season arrival Lopeti Timani claimed a consolation effort in added time as Toulon, who signed South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe from Toulouse earlier this month, stay in 11th place, with just an opening round draw to their name.

On Saturday, Gael Fickou impressed as Racing 92 overcame a stern La Rochelle, who lost to Toulouse in June's final, by 23-10.

Fickou's Test and club midfield partner Virimi Vakatawa dotted down and Fickou forced a penalty try for the 2016 champions.