Preview: Toulon v Racing 92

Date published: August 20 2015

The Top 14 gets back underway with a blockbuster encounter at the Stade Félix Mayol between Toulon and Racing 92.

The visitors have been rebranded over the off-season, dropping the Métro from their name after their association with the club US Métro came to an end.

As a result it's Racing 92 who come to town, but they are missing a number of the big names they signed for the new campaign.

Dan Carter, Rémi Talès and Yannick Nyanga are all away on international duty, and the situation is even worse for Toulon, who are missing a total of 19 players, including new signings Duane Vermeulen, Ma'a Nonu and Paul O'Connell.

Of course none of those absences come as a surprise, and this game should give us the opportunity to look at a few new faces on each side.

For Racing the likes of flanker Luc Barba and hooker Camille Chat will get their chance, with the latter making his first professional appearance after impressing for France U20s.

Joining them will be a very familiar face for Toulon fans, as Chris Masoe makes his return to Mayol in the very first game of the new season. The veteran All Black was a key part of Toulon's three European titles and should earn a warm welcome from the supporters.

For Toulon fly-half UJ Seuteni will be under pressure to perform in his first start at home, having only featured once last season, albeit with an impressive display at Clermont.

Anthony Méric and Théo Bélan are also included, while new signings Charles Ollivon and Thibaut Lassalle will feature for the first time.

Predicting what will happen is tricky this early in the season, but Toulon impressed in their final warm-up game, beating Stade Français. It's dangerous to read too much into those results, but they also rarely lose at home so they will expect to kick off with a win.

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Sireli Bobo, 10 UJ Seuteni, 9 Jonathan Pélissié, 8 Charles Ollivon, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Smith (c), 5 Romain Taofifénua, 4 Thibualt Lassalle, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Alexandre Menini 
Replacements: 16 Bastien Soury, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Jocelino Suta, 19 Gerhard Vosloo, 20 Théo Bélan, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Anthony Méric, 23 Salesi Ma’afu

Racing 92: 15 Sean Robinson, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Marc Andreu, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Maxime Machenaud (c), 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Ross Filipo, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Davit Khinchagishvili
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Julien Brugnaut, 18 Juandre Kruger, 19 Luc Barba, 20 Xavier Chauveau, 21 Etienne Dussartre, 22 Benjamin Dambielle, 23 Cedate Gomes Sa

Date: Friday, 21 August
Venue: Stade Mayol, Toulon
Kick-off: 20:45 local (18:45 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère
Assistant Referees: Adrien Descottes, Bruno Gabaldon
TMO: Gilles Cogne