McAlister & Burgess look to build Toulouse legacy

Luke McAlister and Luke Burgess believe they can build a joint New Zealand-Australian platform for Toulouse to clinch a fifth Heineken Cup title.

The French giants, one of just three sides left in the tournament with a perfect three wins in three games, can virtually wrap up a quarter-final spot with victory over Harlequins, a week after beating the English league leaders 21-10 in their first clash.

In two battles involving sides with perfect records to date, two-time winners Munster tackle Scarlets while similarly in-form Cardiff Blues, who could hand controversial centre Gavin Henson a first start, take on Edinburgh.

Toulouse looked impressive in their win over Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop, a victory which ended the home side’s 14-match winning run and former All Black fly-half McAlister believes he and Wallaby scrum-half Burgess will have crucial roles.

“We need to keep building as a team and with a new combination at 9/10 with Luke Burgess and myself – we had not played together before and this was only our third game together – it is going to take time,” McAlister told

“But we definitely want to create some sort of legacy here and I am loving life in Toulouse. It is a lot different from home but we are embracing the French culture and enjoying ourselves.”

Harlequins go into Sunday’s Pool Six match under a disciplinary cloud after England scrum-half Danny Care was fined an undisclosed amount after being arrested on a drunk and disorderly charge.

“We have a crucial match at Toulouse, so it was important we acted quickly,” said Quins director of rugby Conor O’Shea. “Danny has apologised and understands fully what is expected of him.”

Meanwhile, Wales centre Henson could make his Cardiff debut against Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Friday.

“He will be in contention…. he has a little niggle in his hamstring but in terms of his hand he is back to where he needs to be,” said coach Gareth Baber.

Henson suffered a wrist injury in Wales’ 19-9 World Cup warm-up win against England in August which ended his outside hopes of appearing at the tournament.

In Pool One, Munster, fresh from edging the Scarlets 17-14 for a 13th successive win over the Welsh side, welcome the same opponents to Thomond Park on Sunday.

Munster’s win last weekend saw veteran fly-half Ronan O’Gara mark his 100th match in the tournament, but Scarlets forward Matthew Rees believes the Welsh have little to fear from a trip to Limerick.

“Thomond is a tough place to go and Munster have a great following there. We have got to block out the crowd and just play what is in front of us. We need to be upbeat this week and put the defeat behind us,” he said.

Scarlets have a history of big wins on the road — winning 41-34 in Toulouse in 2006 and 28-23 in Northampton already this season.

“We just need to look back at the Northampton game. We went up there, chucked everything at them and came away with a great result. There is no reason why we can’t do that again,” added Rees.

Leicester, the 2001 and 2002 champions, look to avenge their 30-12 loss to Pool Four leaders Clermont on Saturday, their first defeat in the group after wins over Aironi and Ulster.

Bath, the first English side to be crowned European champions in 1998, are third in Pool Three and need to beat defending champions Leinster, to whom they lost 18-13 last week, if they are to stay alive.

Saturday’s game will be held at Dublin’s Lansdowne Road where 40,000 tickets

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