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Toulon debut for Cheslin Kolbe 16 weeks after quitting Toulouse

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

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Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe is set to make his Toulon debut on Friday 112 days after it was confirmed he had agreed to a shock transfer from Toulouse, last season’s Champions Cup and Top 14 double winners. It was August 27, with South Africa having flown out to Australia for the remainder of the Rugby Championship, that it emerged Kolbe had jumped at a money-spinning deal to dramatically swap clubs in France.

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That August week had begun spectacularly with an unexpected Twitter rumour emerging from the UK about the club future of Kolbe and it ended that Friday morning with confirmation from Toulon that the coveted Springboks winger had signed for them.

It was only the day before when Toulon president Bernard Lemaitre hinted that he was willing to pay the South African an annual salary of €1million once they had agreed a €1.8m buy out of the remainder of the contract Kolbe had with Toulouse.

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The Springboks finisher was contracted with Toulouse until 2023 and the finalisation of the deal taking him to Toulon wasn’t expected to be so quickly rubber-stamped, but it was and he will now make his debut in this Friday’s home Challenge Cup match versus Zebre Parma. 

It’s a fixture in which Kolbe might understandably be a little rusty as he has not played a match since his start in the August 21 Test win over Argentina in Port Elizabeth. 

A leg injury prevented him from appearing in any of the four Championship matches the Springboks played in Australia and it was decided after that to omit him from their squad for the November Autumn Nations Series. That decision allowed Kolbe to complete his injury rehab at his new club and that hard work will now result in his eagerly awaited debut.

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TOULON: 15. Gervais Cordin; 14. Jiuta Naqoli Wainiqolo, 13. Thomas Salles, 12. Julien Heriteau, 11. Cheslin Kolbe; 10. Louis Carbonel, 9. Baptiste Serin (capt); 1. Florian Fresia, 2. Anthony Etrillard, 3. Emerick Setiano, 4. Quinn Roux, 5. Brian Alainu’uese, 6. Julien Ory, 7. Raphael Lakafia, 8. Cornell du Preez. Reps: 16. Michelangelo Sosene-Feagai, 17. Jean Baptiste Gros, 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Lopeti Timani, 20. Jules Coulon, 21. Anthony Belleau, 22. Tane Takulua, 23. Aymeric Luc.

ZEBRE PARMA: 15. Jacopo Trulla; 14. Pierre Bruno, 13. Erich Cronje, 12. Tommaso Boni (capt), 11. Asaeli Tuivuaka; 10. Carlo Canna, 9. Alessandro Fusco; 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Luca Bigi, 3. Eduardo Bello, 4. David Sisi, 5. Andrea Zambonin, 6. Liam Mitchell, 7. Luca Andreani, 8. Jimmy Tuivaiti. Reps: 16. Oliviero Fabiani, 17. Paolo Buonfiglio, 18. Ion Neculai, 19. Leonard Krumov, 20. Giovanni Licata, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Tim O’Malley, 23. Junior Laloifi.

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