Castres Olympique, under the baton of former Ireland internationals Mark McCall and Jeremy Davidson, will field a reinforced team for their second successive Heineken Cup clash with Leinster. They welcome back captain Lionel Nallet from injury, while Michael Cheika’s men could be forced to play without Brian O’Driscoll.
HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 2: Friday, December 12
CASTRES OLYMPIQUE v LEINSTER, Stade Pierre Antoine, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time (live Sky Sports 1)
Team News: The Leinster team to face Castres Olympique in Friday night’s Heineken Cup Pool 2 encounter at the Stade Pierre Antoine has been named.
Simon Keogh will start on the right wing after scoring a try last weekend, while injury worry Brian O’Driscoll will undergo a fitness test before the game.
Should O’Driscoll fail to recover, Felipe Contepomi will start with Fergus McFadden coming onto the replacements bench.
In the pack, Malcolm O’Kelly continues his second row partnership with Devin Toner, who was the Heineken man-of-the-match in the 33-3 victory over Castres at the RDS last Saturday.
Shane Jennings returns from injury to don the number 7 jersey and the fit-again Isa Nacewa has also been named on the bench.
Several hundred Leinster supporters are expected to make the trip to France for the game.
If O’Driscoll plays in the return match against Castres, he stands a chance of joining the small band of players who have scored 25 tries in the Heineken Cup.
He crossed for his 24th Heineken Cup try in last weekend’s victory over Castres.
It was the Ireland captain’s fourth try in this season’s competition, while his overall try tally has come in 54 matches.
O’Driscoll’s Leinster team-mate Shane Horgan is also one try short of the 25-try mark.
Only two players have so far scored 25 Heineken Cup tries or more – Dafydd James (29) and Vincent Clerc (27).
CASTRES OLYMPIQUE: Thomas Bouquie; Charles Sika, Steve Kefu, Lionel Mazars, Philip Christophers; Anthony Lagardere; Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Gideon Lensing, Akvsenti Giorgadze, Daniel Saayman, Joe Tekori, Lionel Nallet (capt), Lei Tomiki, Chris Masoe, Florian Faure.
Replacements: Mathieu Bonello, Luc Ducalcon, Rodrigo Capo Ortega, Kirill Kulemin, Kevin Senio, Thomas Sanchou, Matthieu Bourret.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Simon Keogh, Brian O’Driscoll*, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker (capt); Stan Wright, Bernard Jackman, CJ Van Der Linde, Devin Toner, Malcolm O’Kelly, Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Brian Blaney, Cian Healy, Trevor Hogan, Sean O’Brien, Chris Keane, Felipe Contepomi/Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Touch Judges: Ashley Rowden, Stuart Terheege (both England)
Television Match Official: David Matthews (England)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Castres Olympique to win: 10/3; Draw: 25/1; Leinster to win: 1/5
Pre-Match Quotes: Alan Gaffney (Leinster technical consultant) – “Castres will be playing with a different team this week, though we have done analysis on them for the last five or six games before this already.
“So we’re pretty much aware of the abilities of each of the players without them announcing their team.
“The two nines play differently and we understand that. So we’ve got to adopt and adapt to the side that they pick.
“We’ll probably be running about two or three different backlines in training so it’s a bit tough in that regard. But we’re going to have to keep throwing different people into different positions.
“(In terms of) the passing last week, it was one of the worst performances that we have put in this year. We work on it every training session, so there’s no real reason to suspect as to why it happened.
“A lot of the passing was thrown into the body, which is more a timing issue. We had chopped and changed, but that still shouldn’t affect what we did at the weekend.
“By passing the ball the way we did, into the body and into the shoulder, it took all the pace out of what we were trying to do.
“I think we did create a number of chances, but when the pace comes off the game it’s a very difficult thing to regenerate. A lot of good things were done to get us to that stage, but little things such as that let us down.
“There’s no doubt that we probably played the game a bit narrow at the weekend. And I think we have been guilty of that. That’s something that we have addressed again.
“We have got the ability, we train and we know what we want to achieve. Sometimes we’re not backing ourselves to do things, but sometimes we have to set up certain plays and patterns.
“Traditionally speaking, every play we play is one we want to have as a strike play. We put a few things together that we were happy with, but not enough.”
Heineken Cup Top Scorers – Current Season: Castres Olympique: Tries: Lionel Nallet 1; Points: Cameron McIntyre 12; Leinster: Tries: Brian O’Driscoll 4; Points: Felipe Contepomi 28
Current Form – Castres Olympique – (Top 14): Lost 27-26 at home to Bayonne; Lost 32-17 away to Biarritz; Drew 16-16 away to Brive; Lost 19-11 at home to Dax; Won 12-6 at home to Clermont Auvergne; Lost 24-23 away to Montauban; Lost 28-10 at home to Toulouse; (Heineken Cup): Lost 25-11 away to London Wasps; Lost 13-6 at home to Edinburgh; (Top 14): Won 21-17 away to Toulon; Lost 31-26 at home to Montpellier; Won 26-6 at home to Mont-de-Marsan; Lost 19-12 away to Stade Francais; Lost 23-9 at home to Bourgoin; (Heineken Cup): Lost 33-3 away to Leinster
Leinster – (Magners League): Drew 16-16 away to the Cardiff Blues; Won 52-6 at home to Edinburgh; Won 19-13 at home to the Ospreys; Lost 18-0 at home to Munster; Lost 19-18 away to Connacht; (Heineken Cup): Won 27-16 away to Edinburgh; Won 41-11 at home to London Wasps; (Magners League): Lost 15-12 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 29-13 at home to Newport Gwent Dragons; (Heineken Cup): Won 33-3 at home to Castres Olympique
Previous European Meetings: 1
Saturday, December 6 – Pool 2 – Leinster 33 Castres Olympique 3, The RDS
Heineken Cup Records:
Castres Olympique –
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2001/02: Reached the semi-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool D
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2005/06: Reached the semi-finals
2004/05: Reached the quarter-finals
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2002/03: Reached the semi-finals
2001/02: Reached the quarter-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1995/96: Reached the semi-finals
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Leinster to win by less than 7 points