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Toulon coach says Julian Savea saga a 'fake problem', names former All Black in wider squad for upcoming game

Toulon's coach has finally addressed the off-field saga revolving around Julian Savea, calling the issue a "fake problem" after naming the former All Black in his squad for their upcoming match this weekend.

Patrice Collazo remained quiet after Savea was slammed and told he was "not welcome" at Toulon anymore by club owner Mourad Boudjellal earlier this week over poor playing form.

But Collazo fronted media overnight and knew he would have to address Savea's status after the winger defied Boudjellal's words and said he was determined to stay.

"I know you're all waiting for a reaction because it sells, it's the headlines, it's the buzz, it's talk," he said.

Collazo confirmed Savea was in the 26-man wider training squad for this weekend's clash with Pau but wouldn't confirm if he would start - or even make the final 23.

"Today, I have a match to prepare for and if I consider that Julian Savea can bring something to the team, he will be in the team. 

"If I consider that he is not competitive and does not deserve to play, I will not put him on the team. But I do not need to be told what to do."

The coach said Toulon, who sit 11th in the Top 14 standings, have bigger issues than just Savea's performances.

"Julian Savea is a fake problem. It's collectively that things are not going well," he said.

"Some names have been mentioned, but I think that in the Agen match, apart from three or four players and the bench that brought me something ... we totally passed through.

"The most important thing for me is that the team plays together, that the team wants to do things together. For me, the most important is the team, the club and the reaction that we give in the field.  The rest, for me ... these are things that make you talk, make the buzz and fill pages and social networks.

"I do not need to make statements in the newspapers. I lock myself with the player between four walls and tell him what I think. When a player does not play, there are three possibilities: either he was not good and he leaves the team, either it is a strategic choice or he is left to rest. There are not 50 solutions. I work on sports criteria."

Since joining Toulon last year, Savea has scored one try in 10 matches.

Julian Savea in action for Toulon.
Julian Savea in action for Toulon. Source: Photosport