Former NRL player Mitch Garbutt could be set for a Super League return with new club Toulouse, as the French outfit bid to become the competition’s 12th team from next season.
Ex-Melbourne and Brisbane player Garbutt has already signed up to represent currently second-tier Toulouse from 2021, having twice won Super League’s grand final with former club Leeds Rhinos followed by a spell with Hull Kingston Rovers.
Toulouse are among a handful of clubs hoping to replace Sonny Bill Williams’s former side, Toronto Wolfpack, who withdrew from the top-flight competition in July citing ‘overwhelming financial challenges’.
The Rugby Football League will get together with Super League this week to set out the criteria aspiring clubs will need to meet, with a final decision on the new addition expected in December.
“It had been in the air for a few weeks that there was a possibility that, if Toronto wasn’t allowed back in, they would want to run Super League with 12 teams,” Toulouse coach Sylvain Houles said.
“We had a five-year plan to take us to Super League and 2020 was our fourth year. If we are not ready now, I can’t see what the next stage is.”
Toulouse have already signed players of the calibre of Garbutt and France international Eloi Pelissier for next season and are expected to complete moves for St Helens forwards Joseph Paulo – formerly of Penrith, Parramatta and Cronulla – and Dominique Peyroux if they get the nod to enter Super League.
Toulouse can expect fierce competition for the 12th place, with London Broncos, Featherstone and Bradford having thrown their hat into the ring, while Leigh, Halifax and York are also expected to make a bid.