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
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
Friday , December 5
Brive vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Rovigo18:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Stade Francais20:00
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath 25 - 6 HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Report
Munster 21 - 20 UlsterMunster vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath933
2Northampton830
3Exeter828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821