Preview: Castres v Oyonnax

Date published: September 10 2015

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Old friends will reunite on Friday as Oyonnax travel to Castres to take on their former coach Christophe Urios.

The 49-year-old spent eight years with Oyo, leading them to promotion from Pro D2, as well as the Top 14 play-offs for the first time in their history last season.

Having built a team without stars, but with incredible team spirit, he decided to end his adventure with the club when his former side Castres came calling.

Urios had spent nine years as a player in the Tarn, before turning his attention to coaching and looking after the club's forwards for three seasons.

On his return, he brought two key players with him, loosehead Antoine Tichit and fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta, but neither will feature this weekend after picking up long-term injuries in the last fortnight.

Still, Castres have made a reasonable start to the season, beating Toulon on home soil and getting a bonus point at Bordeaux, however last weekend's loss at Toulouse was disappointing.

The same can be said for Oyonnax, who were Clermont's latest victims, losing for the first time on their new synthetic pitch.

A late fightback showed the club hasn't lost its spirit with Urios' departure, and Olivier Azam will be keen to show that Oyo are still a very tough proposition.

Despite losing the aforementioned pair, as well as starting locks Thibault Lassalle and Damien Lagrange, Oyonnax have remained very strong up front.

George Robson has settled in nicely in the second row, and Nicky Robinson has recovered from a knock he picked up against Clermont, while Piri Weepu makes his first start for the club.

With Urdapilleta and Julien Dumora both out, Castres are very short at fly-half, meaning 18-year-old scrum-half Antoine Dupont gets the nod at ten for the home side.

As it stands Oyonnax are seventh, one point and one place behind Castres, but having already lost once on their own patch this season, they'll need to pick up results on the road. A success over their former boss would be the perfect way to start.

The teams:

Castres: 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 David Smith, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Rémi Grosso, 10 Antoine Dupont, 9 Julien Seron, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Ibrahim Diarra, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega (c), 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Yannick Forestier
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Ralllier, 17 Yohan Montès, 18 Piula Faaselele, 19 Johnnie Beattie, 20 Alexandre Bias, 21 Rémi Lamerat, 22 Thomas Combezou, 23 Florian Houerie

Oyonnax: 15 Quentin Etienne, 14 Dug Codjo, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Roimata Hansell-Pune, 11 Uwa Tawalo, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Pedrie Wanneburg, 7 Olivier Missoup, 6 Pierrick Gunther, 5 Fabrice Metz, 4 George Robson, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Stan Wright
Replacements: 16 Jérémie Maurouard, 17 Antoine Guillamon, 18 Leon Power, 19 Florian Faure, 20 Fabien Cibray, 21 Régis Lespinas, 22 Patrick Sobela, 23 Lukas Rapant

Date: Friday, 11 September
Venue: Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres
Kick-off: 20:45 local (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Tual Trainini
Assistant referees: Thomas Dejean, Jonathan Dufort

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