Planet Rugby

Preview: Toulon v Cardiff Blues

11th January 2013 08:44

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Matt Giteau C of Toulon is held up by Leigh Halfpenny R of Cardiff Blues

Crunch: Giteau and Halfpenny

Mathieu Bastareaud will start for Toulon against Cardiff Blues in Round 5 of the Heineken Cup after being recalled to the France squad.

Bastareaud will partner Maxime Mermoz in the centres with Jonny Wilkinson named at fly-half alongside Frederic Michalak.

Chris Masoe starts ahead of Joe van Niekerk at number eight, with former England lock Nick Kennedy partnering Jocelino Suta in the second row.

Gethin Jenkins misses the fixture against his old side due to a calf injury, meaning that with Andrew Sheridan also absent Xavier Chiocci gets the start at loosehead prop with Florian Fresia named on the bench.

Meanwhile, Leigh Halfpenny returns for Cardiff Blues who have made four changes.

There are three changes in the backs with Halfpenny starting at full-back in place of Jason Tovey. Gavin Evans has recovered from a back injury and Alex Cuthbert from a facial injury to start in the back line in place of Owen Williams and Richard Smith.

There is only one change in the forwards with James Down in instead of Bradley Davies who remains at home with his partner, who is expected to give birth to their first child over the weekend.

"Physically we are going into the Toulon match in the best shape we have been in as a group," said Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Phil Davies.

"The progress we have made from when we started back in June is quite staggering. I am confident, especially after the good results of the last few games that we are in the best place to be going out to face the Top 14 side."

"We need to go out there and make sure we front up physically and when we have the ball we get over the gain line."

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Toulon: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Rudi Wulf, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Frederic Michalak, 8 Chris Masoe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Pierrick Gunther, 5 Nick Kennedy, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Jean-Charles Orioli, 1 Xavier Chiocci.
Replacements: 16 Sebastien Bruno, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 Davit Kubriashvili, 20 Joe van Niekerk, 21 Matt Giteau, 22 David Smith, 23 Nicolas Durand.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Lou Reed, 4 James Down, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Owen Williams,

Date: Saturday, January 12
Venue: Stade Félix Mayol
Kick-off: 14.35 local (13.35 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle (England)

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