Preview: Toulouse v Zebre

Date published: December 16 2016

Toulouse have made wholesale changes for Saturday’s visit of Zebre at the Stade Ernest Wallon, resting a number of top players.

Yoann Huget moves to full-back while Arthur Bonneval swaps wings to make way for Paul Perez. Toby Flood meanwhile comes in at inside centre in place of Gaël Fickou.

There are new half-backs as Samuel Marques and Luke McAlister come in for Sébastien Bezy, who drops to the bench, and Jean-Marc Doussain.

Talalelei Gray and Thierry Dusautoir come into the back row, while Gregory Lamboley and Joe Tekori form a new second row combination.

The final changes come in the front row, with Gurthrö Steenkamp replacing the suspended Cyril Baille as Christopher Tolofua and Census Johnston both start.

Meanwhile, Zebre make seven changes and one positional switch for their trip for France in the Champions Cup.

Guglielmo Palazzani moves from scrum-half to full-back, with Matteo Pratichetti and Faialaga Afamasaga forming a new combination in midfield.

Marcello Violi comes in at scrum-half, as does Josh Furno at number right. There are further changes in the tight five, as George Biagi starts at lock and Pietro Ceccarelli gets the nod at tighthead prop.

Form: Toulouse ended a six-game European winless run when they beat Zebre 36-6 in foggy conditions last weekend. The French outfit are hunting down the top two of Wasps and Connacht in Pool 2, and will target another bonus-point win over Zebre if they are to keep tabs on the leaders. Five points would likely be enough for Toulouse to move into second in the group with Connacht taking on Wasps in Galway on Saturday. Zebre are rock bottom of the group having lost all three of their games. Carlo Canna booted their six points in the loss last weekend, and the Italians have scored just 27 points across their European matches this season. And they face a tough task travelling to the Stade Ernest-Wallon, as Toulouse have not lost there in five games, including the 20-20 draw against Wasps in October.

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Arthur Bonneval, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Luke McAlister, 9 Samuel Marques, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Talalelei Gray, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Gregory Lamboley, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Maks Van Dyk, 19 Piula Faasalele, 20 Selevasio Tolofua, 21 Sébastien Bezy, 22 Yann David , 23 Kunatani Kunabuli

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Faialaga Afamasaga, 11 Kayle Van Zyl, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Josh Furno, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 George Biagi, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Tommaso D’Apice, 1 Bruno Postiglioni
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Christofell du Plessis , 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Tommy Castello

Date: Saturday, December 17
Venue: Stade Ernest Wallon
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Ian Tempest (England)
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner (England), Jonathan Healy (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)