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
Super Rugby
Saturday , July 26
Waratahs vs Brumbies19:40
Crusaders vs Sharks19:35
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , July 19
Brumbies 32 - 30 ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Report
Sharks 31 - 27 HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 12
Crusaders 34 - 8 HighlandersCrusaders vs Highlanders Report
Reds 3 - 34 WaratahsReds vs Waratahs Report
Lions 60 - 25 CheetahsLions vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 10 - 34 SharksStormers vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 11
Blues 8 - 11 ChiefsBlues vs Chiefs Report
Brumbies 47 - 25 Western ForceBrumbies vs Western Force Report
Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne RebelsBulls vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Sunday , July 6
Waratahs 44 - 16 HighlandersWaratahs vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 5
Crusaders 21 - 13 BluesCrusaders vs Blues Report
Western Force 30 - 20 RedsWestern Force vs Reds Report
Stormers 16 - 0 BullsStormers vs Bulls Report
Cheetahs 27 - 20 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 4
Chiefs 24 - 16 HurricanesChiefs vs Hurricanes Report
Lions 34 - 17 Melbourne RebelsLions vs Melbourne Rebels Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 28
South Africa 55 - 6 ScotlandSouth Africa vs Scotland Report
More International Match results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 16 - 9 CrusadersHurricanes vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 39 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Western Force 14 - 40 BluesWestern Force vs Blues Report
Friday , June 27
Highlanders 29 - 25 ChiefsHighlanders vs Chiefs Report
Melbourne Rebels 20 - 36 RedsMelbourne Rebels vs Reds Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 21
Australia 39 - 13 FranceAustralia vs France Report
South Africa 31 - 30 WalesSouth Africa vs Wales Report
New Zealand 36 - 13 EnglandNew Zealand vs England Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00