Jack Willis relishing role in Toulouse’s relentless quest for success

England international Jack Willis admits he immediately “fell in love” with Toulouse’s relentless desire to win trophies after joining the French heavyweights.

Willis, who moved to France following Wasps’ demise, already has a Top 14 title in his portfolio.

But a whole lot more could be just around the corner, with Toulouse lying second in France’s domestic league and hosting Investec Champions Cup semi-final opponents Harlequins on Sunday.

Toulouse are two wins away from a sixth Champions Cup crown, which would extend their record tally in the competition, while they are also chasing a remarkable 23rd French title.

Willis has fitted seamlessly into a star-studded squad headed by the likes of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, and it has turned into a dream move for the 14 times-capped flanker.

“We want to win things and I think that is the thing I love about being here. I fell in love with that the minute I got here,” he said.

“I was fortunate enough to win the Top 14 last year here and I think that feeling certainly didn’t feel like I had fulfilled everything by winning that.


“All it made me want to do was want to win it again, and win more.

“I think the structure they put in place here is incredible – from the president all the way down to us players – and the standards are always kept high.

“With the standard of playing and coaching here it really tests you as a player because it is so competitive.

“You have got to be at your absolute best to be getting picked and I love having that pressure on me week to week.”

The 27-year-old says he has also learnt to take some pressure off himself – helped by working with highly-regarded performance psychologist Katie Mobed – and allow himself a mental freedom that he is relishing.

“It probably got to a point where I was putting a lot of pressure on myself daily, which can get quite exhausting and probably bog you down a little bit,” Willis added.

“I feel a lot freer mentally. The work I have been doing with Katie has been incredible. She is brilliant and a big support to me.

“I think it frees me up going into games and that’s quite important. If you feel bogged down mentally, that does make a big difference.

“I am not saying I was in a bad head space at all, but I think you just have lots going through your mind and you need to organise things correctly. I certainly feel a lot freer on the pitch.”

Willis, who currently cannot play for England due to plying his trade abroad, now has sights trained on halting Harlequins.

Quins reached the tournament’s last four following a breathtaking 42-41 victory over Bordeaux-Begles, but a Champions Cup semi-final appearance is uncharted territory for them.


“They are an incredibly dangerous team and an exciting team to watch. If you give them a foothold in the game it is a long old 80 minutes,” Willis said.

“You can’t really plan for what Quins are going to throw at you. They are going to bring all sorts of tricks and I am sure they have got a few things up their sleeve.

“It is making sure we get our foundations right. It is just crucial to get going early and not let what happened at Bordeaux happen.”

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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