By Guy Williams, Date: 9/4/13
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 League’s Elite One competition.
He’s the first to admit he’d love nothing more than to celebrate his career in France with a nice cold post-grand final beer.
“I’d love a nice cold Tooheys,” the 32-year-old Innes said with a grin.
Innes and his Toulouse teammates line up against Avignon Bisons in the French Federation of Rugby League Elite One semi-final on Saturday with the winner advancing through to face Pia Donkeys for a place in the decider on May 5.
Since arriving on French shores as a 21-year-old, Innes has won an Elite One championship and has also played Test match footy for France, but believed going out with a title would be the ultimate.
“We’ve got a side on paper that can match it with any side in the competition, it’s just putting it together on the field,” Innes said.
“We hit panic stations a little bit too much as well; but we’ve got a lot of young guys so it’s probably up to us more experienced blokes to settle them down and show them how it’s done.
“What counts is what happens in May. Who cares what we’re doing now as long as we’re there on grand final day.”
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 he’d be still here more than a decade on.
“Firstly, I came over here thinking it was going to be a bit of a holiday, play some easy football – I didn’t even realise they had a competition over here at first,” Innes said.
“I 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 I’d give it another season and then go home, and then I ended up just loving it.
“I decided to spend a year in France and now, 12 years later, I’m still here.”
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 wasn’t the case.
Despite battling chronic knee and shoulder injuries Innes decided to have one more season – another ‘one more season’ – but is adamant this is it – no matter how the remainder of the season pans out.
“Not again. My body has had enough,” the personal trainer said.
“I’m in the type of work where my body is my tool. I just can’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.
“But, you’ve got to call it a day sometime – you’ve got to know when. I don’t want to be that guy that goes a season too long and people are saying, ‘What’s he doing still playing? He’s got nothing’. So hopefully I can finish on a good night. I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted to achieve in rugby league so you can’t ask for much more than that.”
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.
“That’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,” Innes said.
“Being 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. You’ve got to think about someone else other than yourself so it makes you grow up straight away.”
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!