Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

French cheesed off - Cockerill

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill believes the Tigers will find themselves facing a "really cheesed off" Toulon team in Saturday's European Champions Cup clash at Stade Felix Mayol.

The clubs' quickfire return meeting comes just six days after Leicester won a titanic Pool Three encounter 25-21 in the east midlands.

But most headlines were made off the pitch, with tournament organisers currently investigating Toulon prop Martin Castrogiovanni's expletive-laden tirade against Cockerill and England international Delon Armitage, who is alleged to have verbally abused spectators at Welford Road.

Castrogiovanni has been left out of Toulon's match-day 23 this weekend, with Levan Chilachava named as his replacement in the starting XV and Carl Hayman providing tighthead prop bench cover.

Armitage, though, starts on the wing instead of Drew Mitchell, with Wales star Leigh Halfpenny's returning at full-back.

Leicester's victory ended a Toulon run of nine successive European wins. More importantly, it also put Tigers back in the quarter-final mix following a tame defeat against the Scarlets seven weeks ago.

"It will be twice as hard to go there and win," said Cockerill, speaking after Toulon were toppled in the Tigers' lair.

"They will be really cheesed off, and they are on their own patch. It doesn't get much more difficult.

"Toulon and Clermont are the two places you have got to try and win.

"We've been to both of those places in the last two seasons and lost by six points and four points, so hopefully we might be able to keep that a bit closer this time.

"If we play to our best, we can compete with most sides."

England captain Chris Robshaw will be absent from the Harlequins line-up for their Pool Two game against Leinster in Dublin on Saturday night.

Quins say that Robshaw is expected to return in "three to four weeks" after suffering a shoulder injury in last Sunday's Leinster clash at the Twickenham Stoop, while injury also sidelines fly-half Nick Evans. Jack Clifford and Tim Swiel are their respective deputies.

Quins' victory five days ago put them top of the group, and Leinster back Ian Madigan said: "There is massive pressure this weekend. All the chips are across the line - it's boom or bust this week."

Saracens will need to make home advantage count against English visitors Sale Sharks in Pool One, with rugby director Mark McCall making a solitary change following last week's narrow victory over the same opposition as Chris Wyles starts in midfield, with Owen Farrell at fly-half.

Sale, out of the quarter-final running following three defeats in a row, welcome back lock Nathan Hines for his first start since suffering a biceps injury three months ago.

Northampton will target a bonus point victory against Franklin's Gardens visitors Treviso on Saturday, which would set them up for crunch Pool Five appointments with the Ospreys and Racing Metro next month.

Saints show nine changes from the side that won comfortably in Treviso last weekend, with Wales wing George North returning after a three-week absence and England forwards Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood also starting.

The Ospreys, meanwhile, accept they must emerge victorious from their trip to the MMArena in Le Mans, where opponents Racing know that a win would effectively make the group a two-way fight between themselves and Saints.

"The Ospreys are a good team, as they showed in coming from behind to draw with us last weekend," Racing's Wales centre Jamie Roberts said.

"They will be confident after that, and we know we are going to be facing a very difficult match, one that will be very important in the outcome of the pool.

"We should have won last week, but we are still in a good position and we need to make the most of it this weekend."

And in Pool Four on Saturday, Glasgow can keep themselves firmly among the quarter-final contenders by beating visitors Toulouse, but defeat would leave them facing a tough task to reach the knockout phase.

Sunday's Champions Cup action sees Wasps looking to bow out from Adams Park before their high-profile move to Coventry by hosting Castres, with twice European champions Munster facing a major Pool One Test away to Clermont Auvergne and the Scarlets hosting Ulster in Pool Three.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph