Preview: Pau v Agen

Date published: December 13 2017

Simon Mannix has made several changes to his squad for Thursday night’s Challenge Cup encounter against Agen at the Stade du Hameau.

The Pool 3 leaders comfortably defeated their Top 14 rivals 40-21 last weekend but, despite that impressive result, their head honcho has decided to rotate the side for the reverse fixture.

Pierre Nueno, Watisoni Votu and Clovis Lebail all come into the backline, replacing Jale Vatubua, Bastien Pourailly and Thibault Daubagna respectively, while Benson Stanley shifts to inside centre.

Mannix has also changed his forward pack with Jamie Mackintosh, Lucas Rey and Lourens Adriaanse making up an altered front-row.

Masalosalo Tutaia comes in for Daniel Ramsay at lock but Sean Dougall and Peter Saili keep their places in the back-row, with Paddy Butler taking over from Giovanni Habel Kuffner to complete the trio.

A win for the hosts would take them to the brink of qualification while their opponents, Agen, would exit the competition.

With that in mind, the French strugglers have followed Pau’s lead by fielding a completely changed team.

Only Loris Tolot, Alban Conduche and Hugo Verdu remain in the backs. They will be joined by Florian Denos, Johann Sadie, Clément Laporte and Ricky Januarie as Lucas Tolot, Jérémy Russell, Valentin Saurs and Lucas Rubio all drop out.

The pack has seen fewer changes but Quentin Bethune, Denis Marchois and Antoine Miquel replace Giorgi Tetrashvili, Christiaan van der Merwe and Léo Ghirard in the starting line-up.

The teams:

Pau: 15 Mathias Colombet, 14 Adrien Planté, 13 Pierre Nueno, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Brandon Fajardo, 9 Clovis Lebail, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Paddy Butler, 5 Masalosalo Tutaia, 4 Fabrice Metz, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Lucas Rey, 1 Jamie Mackintosh
Replacements: 16 Laurent Bouchet, 17 Jérémy Hurou, 18 Matthew Tierney, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Giovanni Habel Kuffner, 21 Christopher Kaiser, 22 Antoine Hastoy, 23 Florian Nicot

Agen: 15 Florian Denos, 14 Loris Tolot, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Alban Conduche, 11 Clément Laporte, 10 Hugo Verdu, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Marco Kotze, 6 Antoine Miquel, 5 Corentin Braendlin, 4 Denis Marchois, 3 Vakhtangi Akhobadze, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Quentin Bethune
Replacements: 16 Clément Martinez, 17 Morgan Phelipponneau, 18 Kamaliele Tufele, 19 Christiaan Van der Merwe, 20 Yoan Tanga, 21 Paul Abadie, 22 Pierre Fouyssac, 23 Mathieu Lamoulie

Venue: Stade du Hameau
Kick-off: 20:45 local (19:45 GMT)
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Chris Harrington (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)