Toulouse look to tame The Tigers, King to draw Wasps sting

Toulouse and Leicester are the two most successful sides in European Cup rugby and on Saturday they come together with the three-time French winning side looking to tame the ‘Tigers’.


Leicester, who edge fellow English Premiership side Wasps in having won it twice as well as appearing another two times in the final to Wasps two wins out of two, are going into the match not quite as perfect as the yet to be unbeaten Toulouse with two defeats this season in the Premiership as well as one defeat in the European Cup itself.


Toulouse’s assistant coach Yannick Bru admitted that the whole balance of the group will rest on two tight matches with the English giants – the other major player in the group Leinster will be looking to keep alive their interest after a 33-6 hammering by Toulouse last time out with a cruise over bottom placed Edinburgh.


“We realise that we are playing basically for the points difference in both matches,” said Bru, a former no-nonsense front row forward for Toulouse and France.


“We are going to Leicester optimistic that we can come through both encounters with them successfully.


“Leicester, is essentially the scrum of the England side.


“They are very strong in terms of winning the ball, and will be very difficult to dominate in the front three, we are expecting a fair bit of pressure, a little like we experienced against Biarritz in our penultimate Top 14 match (an 18-6 win), but I hope that we put on an even more resilient side to us.”

 

For the outstanding Toulouse backs, though, there may well be the small problem of having to deal with a Tigers backline which could well see All Blacks great Aaron Mauger start for them for the first time.

The 27-year-old centre, capped 45 times by the All Blacks, has already received the stamp of confidence from the Tigers former Argentina coach Marelo Loffreda.


“He is an exceptional top-class player,” said Loffreda, who guided the Pumas to third place in the World Cup earlier this year.


“I think he will fit in well at Leicester as he is a talented and intelligent player.”

 

Leinster have rebounded from their humiliating reverse to Toulouse by beating Munster for the first time in 22 years away at Musgrave Park, Cork, in their Magners League clash last Friday.

However, while Ireland fullback Girvan Dempsey has returned to training after suffering a foot injury in the defeat by Toulouse, as has star centre Brian O’Driscoll for Friday’s clash at the Royal Dublin Showgrounds which has already seen 17,000 tickets sold.


“If a guy like Brian says that he can’t run out when you know that he would run all day for you, you make the change and see how the assessment goes,” said Leinster coach Michael Cheika.


“When players leave the ground on crutches you tend to fear the worst because of the visual, but he (O’Driscoll) has come up pretty well.”

 

Munster will look to keep their hopes of a second European title alive with victory at Welsh outfit Llanelli, who have been desperately disappointing so far having lost to French side Clermont and to titleholders Wasps.

The Irish province have lost unluckily to Wasps and then slammed Clermont, who admittedly made 14 changes to their side for the clash with Munster after trouncing Llanelli in their opener.


However, while Llanelli’s flanker Simon Easterby – one of the Irish national side’s few successes in their underwhelming World Cup performance – will renew acquaintance with several of his Ireland team-mates, it is another reunion which will provoke more interest.


That is of Wasps’ former England fly-half Alex King, who is now plying his trade for Clermont and he is blunt about how useful he can be to the French side, who are flying high in the French title race in third place.


“Vern Cotter, the coach, has

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