Preview: Aironi v Clermont

Date published: January 13 2012

Clermont visit Aironi knowing that anything less than a bonus-point victory would constitute a disaster for their quarter-final hopes.

Clermont travel to Aironi on Saturday knowing that anything less than a bonus-point victory would constitute a disaster for their Heineken Cup quarter-final hopes.

Only three points separate Clermont, Ulster and the Leicester Tigers in Pool 4 and the battle to see who qualifies for the last eight of the tournament promises to go down right to the wire.

The Top 14 side will be wary of Aironi who haven't won a game in this season's Pool so far but have ability to cause a major upset on home soil, as Biarritz found out last season.

Clermont have made nine changes to the team that narrowly beat Toulon in the Top 14 last weekend.

In midfield, Kiwi Regan King joins Italian international Gonzalo Canale as the first-choice pairing of Aurelien Rougerie and Wesley Fofana drop to the bench.

Brock James, who recently signed a contract extension with les Jaunards takes over from David Skrela, who is rested.

Number eight Elvis Vermeulen will captain the side and is joined by Julien Bardy and Alexandre Lapandry in the back row.

Canadian lock Jamie Cudmore returns from a rib injury in the second row while former Crusaders hooker Ti'i Paulo anchors an all-new front row.

For the hosts, South Africa pivot Naas Olivier in joined by Tito Tebaldi in the half-backs with Sinoti Sinoti presenting a threat out wide.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Aironi:15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giiulio Toniolatti , 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Alberto Benettin, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Josh Sole, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Romano, 2 Tommaso D'Apice , 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Fabio Staibano, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Gilberto Pavan,

ASM Clermont Auvergne: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Regan King, 12 Gonzalo Canale, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Brock James, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Elvis Vermeulen (c), 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Alexandre Lapandry, 5 Loic Jacquet, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Vincent Debaty
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Lionel Faure, 18 Clément Ric, 19 Nathan Hines, 20 Julien Bonnaire, 21 Kevin Senio, 22 Aurélien Rougerie, 23 Wesley Fofana.

Date: Saturday, January 14
Venue: Stadio Brianteo, Monza
Kick-off: 14.30 (13.30 GMT)
Referee: Leighton Hodges