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European Champions Cup Preview: Leinster v Castres Olympique

European Champions Cup Preview: Leinster v Castres Olympique

A big European Champions Cup night is in prospect at the RDS as Leinster aim to collect as many match points as possible against Castres Olympique, ahead of next week’s round 6 showdown with Wasps.


LEINSTER (2nd) v CASTRES OLYMPIQUE (4th), the RDS, 5.30pm (live Sky Sports 2 HD/RTÉ Radio 1/highlights TG4)

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Team News: Jamie Heaslip returns from injury to captain the Leinster team that has been announced for Saturday’s European Champions Cup round 5 encounter with Castres Olympique.

With tickets still on sale for the game, there is good news for Leinster supporters on the injury front with Heaslip shaking off the shoulder injury that kept him out of last weekend’s PRO12 game against Cardiff Blues, while Martin Moore and Fergus McFadden also start having missed all four previous European rounds with shoulder and ankle injuries respectively.

The front row consists of Michael Bent, Sean Cronin and Moore, who came through his 54 minutes against Cardiff last weekend and reported no issues with his shoulder during the week. It will be the young prop’s fourth appearance of the season.

Mike McCarthy and Devin Toner start in the second row, while in the back row Jack Conan will start his first Champions Cup game for Leinster having appeared off the bench in three of the previous four rounds. Having only played once last year for Leinster due to injury, this will be the Wicklow youngster’s 14th senior appearance of the season.

Jordi Murphy (pictured below) is selected at openside flanker with the returning Heaslip captaining the side from the base of the scrum in his 196th appearance for Leinster.

In the backs Rob Kearney continues at full-back and McFadden and Dave Kearney will take up their positions on the right and left wings respectively.

Ian Madigan and Luke Fitzgerald link up once more in the centre, while Eoin Reddan and Jimmy Gopperth will direct operations from half-back. Notably, Luke McGrath is selected as the replacement scrum half and is in line to make his European debut for Leinster should he come on.

Tickets for Leinster v Castres Olympique are still available and can be bought by clicking here.

Meanwhile, Castres Olympique travel to Ireland as Pool 2’s bottom side and currently sit second-from-bottom in the Top 14 Championship table with ten defeats in 16 games.

Back-to-back victories over La Rochelle and Montpellier during the Christmas and New Year break were a welcome relief for Castres but they were thumped 49-13 by Stade Francais last week.

Compared to the team that started against Leinster in round 2, inside centre Romain Cabannes is the only survivor in the backs. He will captain the visitors with Remi Tales on the bench.

Marcel Garvey and goal-kicking scrum half Rory Kockott will be two players Leinster will want to keep quiet, while the same can be said for the likes of Richie Gray, Ibrahim Diarra and Johnnie Beattie up front.

Saimone Taumoepeau, who scored Castres’ early try in the October meeting, starts again in the front row along with fellow prop Ramiro Herrera.

Scottish international Gray is joined in the second row by the five-times capped Christophe Samson, with Diarra and Beattie linking up with experienced South African Jannie Bornman in the back row.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Fergus McFadden, Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan, Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Michael Bent, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jamie Hagan, Tadhg Furlong, Kane Douglas, Dominic Ryan, Luke McGrath, Gordon D’Arcy, Darragh Fanning.

CASTRES OLYMPIQUE: Julien Dumora; Romain Martial, Thomas Combezou, Romain Cabannes (capt), Marcel Garvey; Daniel Kirkpatrick, Rory Kockott; Saimone Taumoepeau, Marc-Antoine Rallier, Ramiro Herrera, Richie Gray, Christophe Samson, Ibrahim Diarra, Jannie Bornman, Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: Mathieu Bonello, Paea Faanunu, Benjamin Desroche, Yohan Montes, Piula Faasalele, Remi Tales, Remi Grosso, Antoine Dupont.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini, Stefano Penne (both Italy)
Television Match Official: Mauro Dordolo (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/40; Draw: 60/1; Castres Olympique to win: 13/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Matt O’Connor (Leinster) – “It’s about a must-win game at home at the RDS. You’ve got your best blokes available, you stick them on the field. Jamie’s trained all week, he’s done everything asked of him. Now he’ll play.

“(Castres) were a little bit disappointing last week (losing 49-13 to Stade Francais), but I think they’re making assessments of what they can win and what their priorities are and what kind of resources they can put in.

“Each contest from now until the end of the season will be important for them in staying in the top league, so from that end I wouldn’t read too much about who they bring in or what their attitude is. We have to deliver on the bits that we can control.

“Given the form that we’ve shown and the bodies that have come back into the environment and the growth in our game over the last couple of weeks, that is the only thing that’s important to us – making sure that we deliver a quality 80-minute performance and get out of it.

“There’s no point wasting your own resources when the stakes are so high in your domestic league. In their situation, they’ve got to make sure that they remain in the Top 14.

“There’s other dynamics in and around the competition in relation to European qualification and all of those things are a different question for all of the different teams.

“It’s irrelevant to us. We need to make sure that we arrive at the RDS in the right mindset to deliver the kind of performance that gets us as many points out of the game as possible.”

Current Form – Leinster – (GUINNESS PRO12): Lost 22-20 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 42-12 at home to the Scarlets; Lost 10-9 away to Connacht; Won 37-23 at home to Cardiff Blues; Lost 34-23 at home to Munster; Won 20-3 away to Zebre; (European Champions Cup): Won 25-20 at home to Wasps; Won 21-16 away to Castres Olympique; (GUINNESS PRO12): Won 33-8 at home to Edinburgh; Drew 24-24 away to Benetton Treviso; Won 18-12 at home to the Ospreys; (European Champions Cup): Lost 24-18 away to Harlequins; Won 14-13 at home to Harlequins; (GUINNESS PRO12): Won 21-11 at home to Connacht; Lost 28-13 away to Munster; Won 24-11 at home to Ulster; Won 22-13 away to Cardiff Blues

Castres Olympique – (Top 14 Championship): Lost 25-22 at home to Stade Francais; Lost 35-6 away to Toulouse; Won 30-6 at home to Bayonne; Lost 43-10 away to Montpellier; Lost 41-16 away to La Rochelle; Won 27-18 at home to Oyonnax; Lost 28-18 away to Lyon; Won 51-10 at home to Grenoble; Lost 59-7 away to Bordeaux-Bègles; (European Champions Cup): Lost 25-9 away to Harlequins; Lost 21-16 at home to Leinster; (Top 14 Championship): Lost 21-15 away to Brive; Won 22-14 at home to Toulon; Lost 14-9 at home to Racing Metro 92; (European Champions Cup): Lost 32-17 at home to Wasps; Lost 44-17 away to Wasps; (Top 14 Championship): Lost 19-10 away to Clermont Auvergne; Won 27-9 at home to Montpellier; Won 30-15 at home to La Rochelle; Lost 49-13 away to Stade Francais

Top Scorers – 2014/15 European Champions Cup: Leinster – Points: Ian Madigan 58; Tries: Darragh Fanning 2; Castres Olympique – Points: Rory Kockott, Geoffrey Palis 13 each; Tries: Saimone Taumoepeau, Remi Lamerat, Mathieu Bonello, Marc-Antoine Rallier, Max Evans, Florian Houerie 1 each

Previous European Meetings: 5

Sunday, October 26, 2014 – Pool 2 – Castres Olympique 16 Leinster 21, Stade Pierre Antoine
Sunday, January 12, 2014 – Pool 1 – Castres Olympique 22 Leinster 29, Stade Pierre Antoine
Saturday, October 19, 2013 – Pool 1 – Leinster 19 Castres Olympique 7, the RDS
Friday, December 13, 2008 – Pool 2 – Castres Olympique 18 Leinster 15, Stade Pierre Antoine
Saturday, December 6, 2008 – Pool 2 – Leinster 33 Castres Olympique 3, the RDS

Match Facts –

– Leinster have won four of the five meetings between these two sides, including the last three in a row

– Leinster have lost just one of their last 19 home games against French opposition in the tournament, while Castres Olympique have lost on all eight trips to Ireland in the European Cup

– Leinster have the best ruck success rate (97%) while Castres have the worst (91%) in this season’s tournament

Ian Madigan (58) leads the way for points scored so far in the tournament. He has slotted 20/25 kicks at goal in the tournament; no other player has passed the half century this season

– Leinster are the most tackled team in the tournament this season. They have been tackled 570 times in their four games. Castres made 119 of those tackles in round 2

European Cup Records:

Leinster –
2013/14: Reached the quarter-finals
2012/13: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2011/12: Champions
2010/11: Champions
2009/10: Reached the semi-finals
2008/09: Champions
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

Castres Olympique –
2013/14: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2012/13: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2011/12: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2010/11: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2008/09: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
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