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Is McAlister heading for exit at Toulon?

By James Harrington
Luke McAlister with Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal when he signed for the club

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Luke McAlister looks set for a surprise mid-season move out of Toulon, according to reports.

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The 30-cap former All Black had been favourite to head to Clermont to provide much-needed cover at 10, following Camille Lopez’s horrific injury during the European Champions Cup match against Northampton.

But that option appears to have cooled, despite the fact the defending Top 14 champions are suffering an injury crisis at both nine and 10. It was confirmed this week that young scrum-half Charlie Cassang’s season is as good as over after he damaged his ACL last weekend. He joins Greig Laidlaw and Lopez on the long-term absentee list.

Now, it seems McAlister could head to Brive, regional newspaper Var Matin has claimed. The Top 14’s basement side are also desperate for cover at 10, and have asked Toulon if the player would be available.

Var Matin said that the club has no objection, but added that the player has not made a decision.

The 34-year-old McAlister headed to the south coast of France in the summer after six seasons and 150 appearances at Toulouse. But he has played twice, out of eight Top 14 and two Challenge Cup matches this season.

The form of tyro 10 Anthony Belleau saw his early season hopes of filling the fly-half berth quickly disappear. Coach Fabien Galthie also has an understandable preference for Francois Trinh-Duc, having worked with the player at Montpellier.

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And the return to fitness of another newly arrived fly-half rival,  Jonathan Wisniewski, another reported Clermont cover target, along with the promise of academy star Louis Carbonel has left the 30-cap former All Black’s options at 10 hovering somewhere close to absolute zero.

The recent arrival of both Semi Radradra and Malakai Fekitoa have frozen McAlister’s chances in midfield at a similarly low temperature.

Radradra is fast becoming a cult hero at Toulon, courtesy of some thrilling performances both on the wing and at outside centre since arriving from Paramatta Eels.

Fekitoa, meanwhile, made all the right noises at a press conference before Toulon entertained Brive on October 28 and – with Mathieu Bastareaud, Trinh-Duc and Belleau away on international duty – it seems likely that he’ll get his first outing for the club against Agen at the weekend.

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Is McAlister heading for exit at Toulon?

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