Montpellier will fancy their chances of finishing the weekend at the summit of the Top 14 standings as they visit Bayonne.
Montpellier will fancy their chances of finishing the weekend at the summit of the Top 14 standings as they visit struggling Bayonne on Friday.
Montpellier sit level with Toulon and Toulouse at the top of the standings but with the latter two facing off on Saturday, les HÃ©raultais will know that a bonus-point win could leave them as sole leaders.
For second-from-bottom Bayonne, the picture is less rosy as their poor on-field form has only been outdone by the shenanigans of a few senior players off it.
The punishments handed out to Welsh scrum-half Mike Phillips and New Zealanders Stephen Brett and Dwayne Haare for being drunk at a team video analysis session earlier this month will not be made public, the club announced in a statement on Tuesday, but behind closed doors the pressure is being felt.
The Basques have barred the media from their training ground all of this week as they focus on Friday's vital clash.
Bayonne have won just one of their last six games, a hard-fought success in the Basque derby against stone-last neighbours Biarritz.
Montpellier has been victorious in one of their three away games this term, winning in Bordeaux after losing in Biarritz before going down narrowly in Paris to Stade FranÃ§ais.
Montpellier will be without skipper Fulgence Ouedraogo, who is struggling with a shoulder injury. The 27-year-old France flanker, capped 33 times, suffered the injury during Montpellier's 25-8 European Cup defeat to Ulster last Saturday. He will be replaced by Alexandre Bias for the trip Bayonne.
South African centre Wynand Olivier has also been ruled out for two weeks after suffering a hamstring strain.
For Bayonne, wings Marvin O'Connor and Martin Bustos-Moyano, as well as centre Manu Ahotaeiloa are injury concerns.
Brett is named at fly-half for Bayonne with Haare amongst the replacements, as Joe Rokocoko returns in midfield.
Enzo Selponi and Benoit Paillaugue start at half-back for Montpellier, with Jonathan PÃ©lissiÃ© and Francois Trinh-Duc on the bench.
Bayonne: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Martin Bustos-Moyano, 13 Joe Rokocoko, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Marvin O'Connor, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Mathieu BÃ©lie, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Jean-Jo Marmouyet, 6 Mark Chisholm (c), 5 Lisiate Fa'aoso, 4 Dewald Senekal, 3 Gert Muller, 2 David Roumieu, 1 JC Van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Gregory Arganese, 17 Aretz Iguiniz, 18 Dwayne Haare, 19 Jean Monribot, 20 Christopher Loustallot, 21 Bastien Fuster, 22 Sam Gerber, 23 Nemiah Tialata.
Montpellier: 15 Benoit Sicart, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Hamish Gard, 11 Yoan Audrin, 10 Enzo Selponi, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 KÃ©lian Galletier, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Alexandre Bias, 5 Robins TchalÃ©-Watchou, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 MickaÃ«l Ivaldi, 1 Misha Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Charles Geli, 17 Maximiliano Bustos, 18 Thibaut Privat, 19 Fred Quercy, 20 Jonathan PÃ©lissiÃ©, 21 FranÃ§ois Trinh-Duc, 22 Anthony TuitavakÃ©, 23 Na'ama Leleimalefaga.
Results last season: Bayonne 32-26 Montpellier; Montpellier 29-22 Bayonne
Date: Friday, October 25
Venue: Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne
Kick-off: 20.45 local (18.45 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzere