By Guy Williams, Date: 9/3/13
TOULOUSE Olympique might have to start sourcing Tooheys New suppliers in the south of France if Adam Innes has his way.
The Sydney-raised Innes is edging closer to the fairytale finish he deserves after 12 seasons in the French Federation of Rugby Leagueâ€™s Elite One competition.
Heâ€™s the first to admit heâ€™d love nothing more than to celebrate his career in France with a nice cold post-grand final beer.
â€œIâ€™d love a nice cold Tooheys,â€ the 32-year-old Innes said with a grin.
Innes and his Toulouse teammates line up against Avignon Bisons in the Lord Derby Cup semi-final on Sunday in Albi with the winner advancing through to the decider in Carcassonne on May 12.
Since arriving on French shores from Australia as a 21-year-old, Innes has won an Elite One championship and has also played Test match footy for France, but there is one achievement that has thus far eluded him â€“ winning the Lord Derby Cup.
A runner-up with Limoux Grizzlies in 2009, and a semi-finalist on a number of occasions with St Gaudens, Innes believed his current Toulouse Olympique outfit was capable of going all the way in 2012-13.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a side on paper that can match it with any side in the competition, itâ€™s just putting it together on the field,â€ said Innes, who is the longest serving Australian currently playing in the Elite One competition.
â€œWeâ€™re a bit hot and cold, we hit panic stations a little bit too much as well; but weâ€™ve got a lot of young guys so itâ€™s probably up to us more experienced blokes to settle them down and show them how itâ€™s done.
â€œThe results might not be going our way at the moment, but what counts is what happens in May. Who cares what weâ€™re doing now as long as weâ€™re there on grand final day.â€
The qualified personal trainer is the first to admit he jumped at the opportunity to play rugby league in France after a couple of disjointed seasons in Australia, but never thought heâ€™d be still here more than a decade on.
â€œFirstly, I came over here thinking it was going to be a bit of a holiday, play some easy football â€“ I didnâ€™t even realise they had a competition over here at first,â€ Innes said.
â€œI was actually quite surprised to see how tough it was over here. We ended up going alright in our first season, and I was living in a beautiful part of France, at the foot of the Pyrenees (Mountains) in St Gaudens, I was playing in a good football side so I thought Iâ€™d give it another season and then go home, and then I ended up just loving it.
â€œI decided to spend a year in France and now, 12 years later, Iâ€™m still here.â€
After the demotion of St Gaudens prior to the 2011-12 season Innes joined nearby Toulouse to provide a boost of experience and to link up with his former coach Gilles Dumas for one last season before hanging up the boots.
But, that wasnâ€™t the case.
Despite battling chronic knee and shoulder injuries Innes decided to have one more season â€“ another â€˜one more seasonâ€™ â€“ but is adamant this is it â€“ no matter how the remainder of the season pans out.
â€œNot again. My body has had enough,â€ the personal trainer said.
â€œIâ€™m in the type of work where my body is my tool. I just canâ€™t keep putting it through torture anymore. Five years ago when I had my last operation I was told I would never be able to play again, but with a bit of hard work I am lucky enough to be still playing now.
â€œBut, youâ€™ve got to call it a day sometime â€“ youâ€™ve got to know when. I donâ€™t want to be that guy that goes a season too long and people are saying, â€˜Whatâ€™s he doing still playing? Heâ€™s got nothingâ€™. So hopefully I can finish on a good night. Iâ€™ve achieved everything Iâ€™ve wanted to achieve in rugby league so you canâ€™t ask for much more than that.â€
Aching body aside, the combination of full-time work and a two-and-a-half hour round trip from his home town of St Gaudens to Toulouse three nights per week for training has become less appealing since Innes and his partner Julie welcomed son Bradley late last year.
â€œThatâ€™s another reason. I want to be able to spend time with my kids and be able to play football with them down the track,â€ Innes said.
â€œBeing a dad is the best thing that can happen to you. I was probably a 30-year-old going on 20 mentally, and then 10 minutes later your kid comes into the world and you grow up automatically. Youâ€™ve got to think about someone else other than yourself so it makes you grow up straight away.â€
The match between Toulouse and Avignon kicks-off at 4.50pm on Sunday at Albi while Carcassonne tackle Limoux Grizzlies at Lezignan on Saturday at 3.30pm.
www.FrenchFooty.com.au is the place to discover everything about the French Federation of Rugby League’s Elite Championship competition. You’ll uncover the latest news on the non-French players who are plying their trade in the south of France. And, it’s all in English!