Planet Rugby

Preview: Toulouse v Toulon

25th October 2013 14:04

Share:

Toulon s scrum half Fred Michalak C speaks with Toulouse s fullback Clement Poitrenaud

Set to face his former mates: Fred Michalak

A much-changed Toulon squad will travel to Stade Ernest Wallon to face high-flying Toulouse on Saturday in a top-of-the table clash.

With both sides level with Montpellier at the summit of the Top 14 standings, the clash between France's most decorated club and the reigning European champions has the potential to be one of the biggest games of the year.

Even though Toulon are not sending their strongest team, the depth of the respective squads means there will be no shortage of star names.

Toulouse have won their last four homes games against RCT and following their epic win over Saracens in European competition last week, the hosts will start as favourites.

Toulon have been below-par on their travels this season, and were once again underwhelming last week, losing away to a Cardiff Blues side that had been comprehensively beaten by Exeter seven days earlier.

Toulon fly-half Frederic Michalak, who could well start his first Top 14 game of the season after returning from a shoulder injury he suffered on the France tour of New Zealand in the close season, believes that Toulouse have the better form at the moment.

While Michalak bemoaned Toulon taking matches for granted he added that Toulouse were on a "different planet."

"I don't know if this is the best moment to be playing Toulouse," said the 31-year-old veteran, who established his reputation at Toulouse.

"I hope that we prepare for this match with a little bit of fear in our heads because opposite us will be the best team in France at the moment.

"We cannot pretend that we are going to win at Toulouse, especially seeing how they are playing at the moment.

"They are just on another planet. I know the club, I know that in such moments, they are very very strong.

"In their victory over Saracens (17-16 in the European Cup last Friday) they didn't break even with a really strong team opposite them. It is a huge club, who want more all the time. They want to win all their matches. All the players have something to prove. They leave little room for error."

Toulouse's only blow of late has been the long-term injury suffered by former All Black fly-half Luke McAlister, but even with him due to miss four months they do not feel the need to replace him with a signing and look set to place their confidence instead in scrum-halves Jano Vermaak and Jean-Marc Doussain.

Louis Picamoles wins the start at number eight ahead of last week's Man of the Match against Saracens, Gillian Galan.

Former Sharks hooker Craig Burden is set to make his Toulon debut after being named in the extended squad but countryman Bryan Habana is not yet ready to play.

Ali Williams, Maxime Mermoz, Benjamin Noirot, Steffon Armitage, Joe Van Niekerk and Michael Claassens are amongst those set to be rested after coach Bernard Laporte admitted his team were "exhausted."

That means selections for Rudi Wulf at inside centre, Juan Smith at number eight and Drew Mitchell at full-back in an XV captained by Sebastian Tillous-Borde.

Results last season: Toulouse 32-9 Toulon; Toulon 24-9 Toulouse

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz (c), 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Gregory Lamboley, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Romain Millo-Chluski, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Yohan Montes, 19 Yannick Nyanga, 20 Joe Tekori, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Clement Poitrenaud, 23 Gillian Galan.

Toulon: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Alexis Palisson, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Rudi Wulf, 11 David Smith, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Sebastian Tillous-Borde (c), 8 Juan Smith, 7 Pierrick Gunther, 6 Virgile Bruni, 5 Jocelino Suta, 4 Konstantin Mikautadze, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Charles Orioli, 17 Florian Fresia, 18 Joe Van Niekerk, 19 Chris Masoe, 20 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 21 Delon Armitage, 22 Maxime Mermoz, 23 Carl Hayman.

Date: Saturday, October 26
Venue: Rugby Club Toulonnais
Kick-off: 14:55 local (12.55 GMT)
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Sunday , November 23
Georgia vs JapanGeorgia vs Japan Preview
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
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
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina 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
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter828
2Bath828
3Northampton726
4Saracens724
5Wasps820