Planet Rugby

Preview: Castres v Leinster

10th January 2014 11:08

Share:

Castres s Brice Dulin tackled v Leinster

World-class full-back: Brice Dulin

Leinster travel to French champions Castres on Sunday knowing that victory will virtually secure their place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

The Irish province could even book a place in the playoffs with a game to spare if they win and Northampton fail to come away from Ospreys with a victory.

But the three-time champions could be in for a very difficult afternoon against a Castres team that is unbeaten at their Stade Pierre Antoine fortress in all competitions this season.

The Dubliners will nevertheless fancy their chances, especially if they can produce the kind of away form that saw them put 40 points past Saints at Franklin's Gardens last month.

Just how seriously Castres will take this fixture remains to be seen. Already five points behind pool leaders Leinster and with a tough trip away to Northampton on the menu next week, quarter-final qualification seems like a long shot for les tarnais.

Castre are coming off the back of a dull, try-less 15-9 victory over Bordeaux-Bègles that took them to third in the Top 14 standings while Leinster produced a clinical second-half display to get past Connacht in the Pro12.

Key pair Rory Kockott and Antonie Claassen will be missing for Castres. Both the South African scrum-half and the South African-born France international flanker missed Castres's last Top 14 match against Bordeaux-Begles due to injury. Kockott has a calf problem while Claassen is suffering from a knee injury.

"It's still a bit too soon for them," said Castres coach David Darricarrere.

Former Bok loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg also missed the clash due to a thigh problem as Piula Faasalele starts at number eight.

Full-back Geoffrey Palis, who Monday earned a call-up to the France pre-Six Nations training camp, is out with a dislocated thumb.

Hooker Brice Mach is back from injury and starts in the bench but Mathieu Bonello and wing Romain Martial are not expected to return until the trip to Northampton next weekend.

In total 12 players are retained from the Leinster team that lost to Northampton in December with coach Matt O'Connor making changes at fly-halfand two changes in the back row.

After a strong performance off the bench last weekend against Connacht in the PRO12, Jimmy Gopperth starts at 10. In the back row, Rhys Ruddock has failed to recover from the calf injury suffered in the second half of the game in the Sportsground and as a result Kevin McLaughlin comes back in after a recent lay off with a thumb injury to take his place at 6. The other change sees Jordi Murphy retained at 7, with Shane Jennings on the bench.

Otherwise there is a familiar feel to the Leinster line up with Rob Kearney, Dave Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald as the back three, Fitzgerald having recovered from the illness that ruled him out of last weekend's game at short notice.

Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll are once again selected in the centre while Gopperth will be joined at scrum-half by Eoin Reddan.

In the pack, it is the same front five as selected in December, with Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross in the front row, with Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy packing down behind.

In the back row Jamie Heaslip will captain the side from number eight, with the aforementioned Murphy and McLaughlin beside him.

Sunday's game also marks Rob Kearney's 50th Heineken Cup appearance and as a result he will be awarded an ERC Elite Award. The Louth native will be presented with a specially commissioned ERC cap after the game and joins other Leinster players like Gordon D'Arcy, Leo Cullen, Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll and Malcolm O'Kelly on the list.

Gordon D'Arcy is only five appearances short of 100 Heineken Cup caps and would become the first Leinster player to achieve such a feat.

There was further good news from the Leinster camp with the news that Fergus McFadden has come through training this week unscathed and will be in contention for a place in the squad for the visit of the Ospreys in Round 6 of the Heineken Cup next Friday.

The teams:

Castres: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Remi Grosso, 13 Seremaia Bai, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Max Evans, 10 Remi Tales (capt), 9 Cedric Garcia, 8 Piula Faasalele, 7 Ibrahim Diarra, 6 Mathieu Babillot, 5 Christophe Samson, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Benjamin Desroche, 19 Yannick Caballero, 20 Julien Tomas, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Marcel Garvey, 23 Anton Peikrishvili.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aardon Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Date: Sunday 12th January
Venue: Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres
Kick-off: 13:45 local (12:45 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs ToulonUlster vs Toulon Preview
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615