Wallabies abroad: Toomua to debut, Horwill captains Quins

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by Beth Newman

The European tournaments kick off this weekend, with plenty of capped Wallabies in action across the Challenge and Champion Cups.

Just to catch you up, the Champions Cup involves 20 teams - the top six from France's Top 14 and the UK's Premiership and the top seven from the Pro12, a number that must include at least one club from each of Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

Depending on results, the reigning Challenge Cup winer and the next best teams from each of the Top 14, Premiership and Pro12 play off for the final Champions Cup spot.

All other teams play off in the Challenge Cup.


Matt Toomua could be back in the Test frame soon. Photo: Getty ImagesMatt Toomua will make his Leicester debut against Glasgow in Scotland this weekend and has received high praise from director of rugby Richard Cockerill in the lead-up.

“He will travel up to Glasgow as he is a top-quality player. He makes everything look very easy and there is no substitute for quality, “he said this week.

“He's only been here a short period of time, but he's a great footballer and he learns quickly.”

Toomua will partner with Matthew Tait in the centres, with Peter Betham to come off the bench in the pool match up.

A blockbuster clash between reigning champions Saracens and three-time winners Toulon will headline the Champions Cup pool stages, with teams set to be announced on Saturday.

Aussies Liam Gill, Matt Carraro and James O’Connor would be in the mix for the Toulon side, with Gill especially impressing in the Top 14 so far this season.

Nic White could be in the mix for Montpellier's battle with Northampton, with teams yet to be announced.

Adam Ashley-Cooper’s Bordeaux face Ulster in their pool match, hosting the Northern Irish team.

Ashley-Cooper and his teammates had a slightly different preparation this week, heading out to crush some grapes in a local winery.

The Exeter Chiefs-Clermont match rounds out the weekend’s Champions Cup action, with Greg Holmes, Dave Dennis, Lachie Turner and Sitaleki Timani all in contention for a spot.


James Horwill played 80 minutes at the Stoop. Photo: Getty ImagesJames Horwill captained Harlequins in their opening Challenge Cup fixture against Stade Francais, a 43-21 victory for the English side

Neither Peter Kimlin nor Mike Harris will line up for their sides in the Grenoble vys Lyon clash, but former Reds backrower Curtis Browning will start at number eight for the French side

Cooper Vuna’s Worcester Warriors will take on Russian side Enisei-STM on Sunday morning (AEDT), while Leroy Houston’s Bath face off against France’s Pau, with their teams yet to be named for those match ups.


Scott HIgginbotham is at a crossroads. Photo: Getty ImagesNewly-signed Queensland Red Scott Higginbotham will start for the NEC Green Rockets against Suntory Sungoliath.

Sam Norton-Knight has been named on the bench for the Green Rockets in the match.

Higginbotham’s future teammate Hendrik Tui will start at six for the Sungoliath, though George Smith has not been named.

Digby Ioane will come off the pine for Honda, as the Heat searches for its first win of the 2016-17 season.

Anthony Fainga’a will play at outside centre for the Kintetsu Liners against Ricoh, shifting a spot wider than he has played for the team in recent weeks.

Mark Gerrard has moved to fullback for the Toyota Industries Shuttles in their matchup against Toshiba Brave Lupus, with former Reds youngster Sam Greene in the starting 10 jersey.

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