All-Aussie showdown in Champions Cup

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

There’ll be plenty of Aussies and plenty at stake in a blockbuster clash between Toulon and Wasps in the European Champions Cup this weekend.

The two teams sit first and second in their pool with two matches left in the round robin stage of the competition.

Wallabies veteran George Smith will start at openside for Wasps and this week said he was eagerly anticipating the challenge.

Smith’s side romped home against Toulon when they last played but the French side has seen a number of World Cup representatives return to its side since then.

Injuries have forced a reshuffle of the Toulon team for the weekend, with James O’Connor left out after coming off injured at half-time against Bath last weekend and Matt Giteau set for groin surgery.

Giteau’s Wallabies teammate Quade Cooper will have another chance to prove himself at 10 in the crucial match, while winger Drew Mitchell has been shifted to fullback for the game.

Champions Cup quarter-final spots are on the line in Europe this weekend in the second-last round of European matches.

Munster has a chance to redeem itself against Stade Francais in the Champions Cup, matching up against the Parisians for the second straight week.

Wallabies halfback Will Genia has not been named for Stade in the match, but Munster’s Mark Chisholm will line up as a starting lock.

A win would guarantee the French side a knock-out spot for the first time in six years.

Wallabies veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper will return to the Bordeaux starting side as they face Exeter in their round five match.

Bordeaux’s quarter-final prospects were all but ended last weekend with a third loss in the competition putting them on the bottom of their pool.

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu will come off the bench for Bordeaux in the match.

A win for Peter Betham’s Leicester against Benetton Treviso on Sunday morning (AEDT) would seal its quarter-final spot, with one match left.

Betham will be injected off the pine in the game against the Italian side that sits last in its Champions Cup pool.

The Tigers are undefeated to this point in the competition, one of only two sides across the tournament with a perfect record.

Glasgow faces a crunch pool game against Northampton on Monday morning (AEDT), with Wallabies Taqele Naiyaravoro coming off the bench for the Warriors.

CHALLENGE CUP

Two Aussies will feature in Montpellier’s side to face Calvisano this weekend, with two wins from their final two games needed to keep their final eight hopes alive.

Nic White will start at halfback for the Jake White-coached team, while Jesse Mogg will play at fullback.

Peter Kimlin will start at ock for Grenoble against London Irish, as they look to seal a knock-out spot.

James Horwill has not been named for the Harlequins in their match against Cardiff.

Capped Wallabies Luke Burgess and Cooper Vuna have been left out of Zebre and Worcester sides, respectively, as the teams do battle in their fifth Challenge Cup pool match.

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