Preview: Toulouse v Connacht

Date published: January 20 2017

Toulouse have made a few changes to their side to take on Connacht at Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday.

In the backline star winger Yoann Huget moves to full-back in place of Maxime Médard. Arthur Bonneval is promoted from the bench to the starting line-up as he starts in the 14 jersey while Paul Perez starts on the left wing. The centres and half-back pairings remain the same.

In the loose forwards Thierry Dusautoir moves back to the openside position with Talalelei Gray dropping to the bench and Joe Tekori will take up the six jersey.

The tight five has one change with Yoann Maestri coming in for Joe Tekori in the five jersey.

Meanwhile, Connacht Head Coach Pat Lam has named his matchday 23 to face Toulouse.

There are five personnel changes in total from the team that lined out at the Sportsground in the bonus point win over Zebre six days ago.

Jack Carty has recovered from injury to take the reins at fly-half while Peter Robb also returns to form a new centre partnership with Craig Ronaldson.

Up front, Ireland international Quinn Roux comes in having missed out last week while the back row is also boosted with the return from injury of flankers Nepia Fox-Matamua and Jake Heenan.

Commenting on the upcoming game, Lam said: “We are aware of the phenomenal challenge that awaits us in Toulouse on Sunday but these are the sort of games that you want to be a part of. It’s an opportunity as a player and as a team to put in a performance on the big stage.

“While the right outcome would be massive for Irish Rugby, the focus remains on executing our game plan in a pressure environment to get us the win we need.”

Form: If Connacht win on Sunday they’ll book a place in the knockout stage for the first time in their history. However, if Toulouse win and deprive Connacht of a losing bonus point, they will go through to the last eight. After that, it all depends on bonus points, Wasps’ result against Zebre and perhaps even match points between Toulouse and Connacht. At the moment, Connacht have 4 from The Sportsground and Toulouse have 1. After previous defeats to Ulster and Connacht, Toulouse are looking to avoid a third consecutive home defeat by Irish opposition. Connacht won their last away game in Toulouse in the 2013/14 season having scored just three points in total in their two previous European Cup games in France.

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Yann David, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Francois Cros, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Joe Tekori, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacments: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Gurthro Steenkamp, 19 Talalelei Gray, 20 Piula Faasalele, 21 Gillian Galan, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Alexis Palisson

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Peter Robb, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 5 James Cannon, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 John Andress, 19 Sean O’Brien, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 John Cooney, 22 Tom Farrell, 23 Danie Poolman

Date: Sunday, January 22
Venue: Stade Ernest Wallon
Time: 17:15 local (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (Eng), Peter Allan (Eng)
TMO: David Grashoff (Eng)