Preview: Toulouse v Connacht

Date published: December 6 2013

Toulouse have named Springbok scrum-half Jano Vermaak in their starting XV to host Connacht in Sunday's Heineken Cup clash.

Toulouse have named Springbok scrum-half Jano Vermaak in their starting XV to host Connacht in Sunday's Heineken Cup clash at Stade Ernest Wallon.

France skipper Thierry Dusautoir returns from international duty along with Yoann Huget to start in a side that features the monstrous Edwin Maka in the second row and youngster Jean Pascal Barraque at fly-half.

Meanwhile, flanker John Muldoon – the province's second highest capped player – returns to the starting line-up for Connacht.

Muldoon is one of four starting players to return to Stade Ernest Wallon since the January 2012 clash during Connacht's maiden year in the European competition.

Muldoon has been named in the back row with Jake Heenan and George Naoupu who also returns to the French city this weekend, starting at number eight.

Returnee Brett Wilkinson represents the third change up front, the loosehead prop coming in for the injured Ronan Loughney.

Craig Clarke, on what will be his tenth start for Connacht, will captain the side on Sunday, partnered by Mick Kearney in the second-row.

In the backs, 20-year-old Irish international Robbie Henshaw retains his spot at full-back while Dan Parks and Kieran Marmion make up the half-back pairing.

“Selection this week was difficult because of the performance last week where we know, as a team, we didn't capitalise on the many opportunities we had and then capitulating in the final five minutes, where we conceded 21 points,” said head coach Pat Lam.

“We've decided to give the same group an opportunity to put things right after last week.

“With injuries to Aly (Muldowney) and Ronan (Loughney) and Eoin (McKeon) being unavailable to train at the start of the week, we have the experience of John (Muldoon), Brett (Wilkinson) and George (Naoupu) coming in to the starting XV.

“This is probably the biggest challenge we face as a team, playing a side as successful as Toulouse in their back yard. We understand what we're up against and after our performance last week; I've seen a real determination and doggedness by everyone to step up.”

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yann David, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Jean Pascal Barraque, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Edwin Maka, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Romain Millo-Chluski, 20 Christopher Tolofua, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Lionel Beauxis, 23 Timoci Matanavou,

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Craig Clarke (capt), 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Sean Henry, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris Wright, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Michael Swift, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Gavin Duffy,

Date: Sunday 8th December
Venue: Stade Municipal
Kick-off: 1600 local, 1500 GMT
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Stefano Penne, Elia Rizzo (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)