Toulouse (France) (AFP) - One high-profile England fly-half might have left the Top 14 in the shape of Jonny Wilkinson, but another has landed in the form of Toby Flood, whose debut in the French elite could not have been any more assured.
Flood had a game to remember last week, scoring all of Toulouse's points in the 20-19 season-opening victory over Oyonnax.
His decision to move from Leicester in the English Premiership to the southwest of France might have cost him a place in the England set-up, notably in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup, but Flood was adamant that he'd made the right choice.
"I had the opportunity to represent my country 60 times for a long period," said Flood, who racked up 301 points for England.
"I miss those days but I couldn't miss the opportunity to come to Toulouse. I always wanted to play in a different country.
"It's been enjoyable so far really, this team has some fantastic players.
"My integration was pretty straightforward, the guys are great, they look after you."
Toulouse host Castres in Friday's match, and Flood was under no illusions that the season would get any easier.
"There are a lot of good teams, good players," the 29-year-old said.
"You can't take anybody lightly. Last year, the championship was really tight - you have to fear every team."
The second of Toulouse's star recruits comes in the bulkier form of ex-All Black prop Corey Flynn, who has left the Crusaders after 13 seasons.
"My career at the Crusaders represents a large part of my life, but things change," said the 33-year-old Flynn, who won 15 caps for the All Blacks.
"Many young players come through and they made it known that my time was at an end. But I wasn't ready to stop playing, I feel in good physical and mental condition, and ready for competition."
Flynn concurred with Flood that the Top 14 was a challenging league.
"From what I've seen, it's really very different (from Super 15)," the prop said.
"The Top 14 seems to be much more physical, the players are enormous. In New Zealand, the game is quicker and based more on running.
"I know that Toulouse like to play with a flamboyant, expansive style, with some French flair, but it remains a league where impacts are important."
Toulouse's opponents on Friday will be Castres, who suffered a disappointing 25-22 defeat by Stade Francais last week.
Defending champions Toulon, convincing 29-15 victors over Bayonne last week, entertain newly-promoted La Rochelle on Saturday, the west coast side having been well beaten by fellow relegation favourites Brive in their opening game.
Elsewhere, Brive host Clermont, Grenoble travel to Montpellier, Bordeaux-Begles entertain Racing-Metro and fellow Paris team Stade Francais welcome newcomers Lyon to their Stade Jean Bouin, which recently played host to the finals of the women's Rugby World Cup.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Toulouse v Castres (1845)
Brive v Clermont (1230), Montpellier v Grenoble, Toulon v La Rochelle, Bordeaux-Begles v Racing-Metro, Bayonne v Oyonnax (all 1630), Stade Francais v Lyon (1845)
- Sports & Recreation
- Toby Flood