Connect with us
//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Champions Cup

Preview: Leinster v Toulouse. Key Battles.

Leinster have named their side to face Toulouse in the Champions Cup semi-finals and there are a host of Irish internationals back in it

Published

on

Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster have named as strong a side as possible for their Champions Cup semi-final with Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday at 15 15.

Johnny Sexton has returned following time out with an injury and captains the team from fly-half.

Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Tadhg Furlong begin the game in the front-row, while Devin Toner and James Ryan pair up in the second-row in what is an outstanding front five.

Rhys Ruddock is at six, Sean O’Brien at seven and Jack Conan is at No 8 to make up the remainder of the pack.

Luke McGrath is back at scrum-half to partner Sexton, while Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose team up in the centre.

James Lowe starts on the left-wing, Jordan Larmour on the right, and Rob Kearney will open the game at full-back in what is a star-studded XV.

The bench is full of talent to call upon too if needed. James Tracy, Ed Byrne and Michael Bent are the front-row replacements, with Scott Fardy and Max Deegan covering the rest of the pack. Fardy’s inclusion coupled with Lowe starting means that Jamison Gibson-Park misses out. In his place is Hugh O’Sullivan, who is joined by Ross Byrne and Rory O’Loughlin among the replacements.

Scrum-half McGrath is expecting a huge game and has been impressed by Toulouse since their second of two previous meetings this season, he admitted while speaking to the Irish Times.

“Toulouse have improved as well. That quarter-final in Racing was incredibly impressive, the way they handled the red card, bringing [Sébastien] Bézy on [at scrumhalf], moving [Antoine] Dupont to ‘10’. They’re a class outfit so, it’s going to be a great challenge,” he said.

Toulouse will head into the game in a confident mood as they hope to dethrone the reigning champions in their own backyard.

Clement Castres, Peato Mauvaka and Charlie Faumuina are the front-three, with Richie Arnold and Richie Gray at four and five respectively.

Rynhard Elstadt is at blindside flanker, with Joe Tekori at openside and Jerome Kaino taking the No 8 shirt.

It’s an exciting back-line too as Sebastien Bezy and Antoine Dupont pair up in the half-backs, with Pita Ahki and Sofiane Guitoune outside them in the centre pairing.

The electric Cheslin Kolbe is at 11, with Yoann Huget at 14 and Thomas Ramos occupying the 15 jersey.

The visitors have plenty of talent on the bench with the likes of Cyril Baille, Romain Ntamack and Maxime Medard among the replacements ready to put in a shift when called upon.

Both sides are at their strongest possible and that has led to some interesting individual fights across the pitch.

Key Battles:

James Ryan vs Richie Gray = This is one of the most exciting aspects of the game, two of the best locks around going head-to-head. Both are immense at the break-down, and leaders for their respective sides. Whoever comes out on top here will put their team on the front foot and could send their side through to the final.

Jack Conan vs Jerome Kaino = Here is a chance for Jack Conan to continue his rise to the top as he faces one of the best in the business. Conan put in a man of the match performance in the quarter-finals against Ulster and will need a similar performance to keep Kaino at bay. On the other hand, Kaino will need to keep an eye out for Conan’s ability to pick and go. This will be a seriously physical clash and these two will be key to it.

James Lowe vs Cheslin Kolbe = Yes they may be on opposite wings but they are the two sides biggest threats going forward. Lowe will face veteran Huget on his wing while Kolbe comes up against the dancing feet of Larmour. Not only will these two need to be at their best going forward but will need to be solid defensively. You can’t take your eye off either one for a second or they will tear your team apart and if the pair get going we could witness greatness on the flanks.

As both these sides look to add a record fifth European title to their name the stakes couldn’t be higher and with all the cards laid we seem set for a cracker on Sunday.

Champions Cup

Another Fijian Heads to Scotland

Glasgow Warriors have confirmed the signing of a Fijian star only two days after Edinburgh captured the signing of Mesulame Kunavula

Published

on

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Glasgow Warriors have announced the signing of Fijian hooker Mesu Dolokota on a two-year deal from Fijian Drua.

The 24-year-old was named in Fiji’s World Cup training squad last month and will join up with the Warriors following the conclusion of the tournament in Japan.

Dolokoto is happy to be signing for the PRO 14 runners-up and is excited to feature in both the PRO 14 and the Champions Cup.

“I’m very happy to be joining Glasgow Warriors and I’m looking forward to playing in two of the best rugby competitions in the world. The opportunity to learn from such an experienced coaching team and play in such a successful team is very exciting for me. The club has a strong Fijian history and I hope I can be a big part of it going forward,” he said.

The hooker has nine international caps for Fiji as well as having experience in Super Rugby with the Brumbies in 2015 and Glasgow assistant coach John Dalziel is delighted to add more experience to the squad.

“Mesu is an exciting talent who will bring even more international experience to our front row. He isn’t your traditional front-row forward, he likes to bring a bit of Fijian flair to his game, but he can also do the basics very well and we’re excited to work with him when he shows up following international duty,” he said.

Dolokoto follows the footsteps of fellow Fijian Mesulame Kunavula, who joined Edinburgh only a couple of days ago and the PRO 14 can look forward to some Fijian flare next season.

Watch every Guinness PRO14 Game - Only On Premier Sports.
Continue Reading

Champions Cup

Leinster Unveil New European and Alternative Jerseys

Leinster have revealed their European and alternative jerseys for the 2019/20 season

Published

on

(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have unveiled their new Adidas European and alternative jerseys for the 2019/20 season.

The European jersey is an alteration on the traditional blue home jerseys worn by the reigning two-time PRO 14 champions.

Leinster have revealed that the jersey has been inspired by meteorites that were once used to create iron spears and will be worn by the club for the next two seasons.

“The pattern of the Leinster Rugby European jersey takes inspiration from meteorites that fell from the sky and were used by the Laighin people to create their iron spear. These meteorite formations form the graphic design of the jersey paying homage to the tale of the metal of the Gods, providing bold and vibrant energy for Leinster Rugby’s European campaign,” they said on their official website.

The alternative jersey is a shade of purple with black strips horizontally across the shirt.

They have said that this jersey is inspired by the purple skyline that is seen across the east coach of Ireland.

“The Alternate jersey embodies the electric energy of Ireland’s east coast at night. The iconic purple skyline forms the colour inspiration for this season’s kit. Incorporating a twist on the traditional hoop design, the kit harnesses the vibrant energy of the province, whilst maintaining a classic look and feel,” they added.

As well as the two new jerseys Leinster will continue to wear their Adidas home jersey from the 2018/19 season for the season ahead.

You can view the full Leinster Range for the up coming season here.

Watch every Guinness PRO14 Game - Only On Premier Sports.
Continue Reading

Champions Cup

Ulster Confirm Squad for 2019/20 Season

Ulster have announced their 44-man strong squad ahead of next season

Published

on

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ulster have confirmed their 44-man panel for the 2019/20 season with a total of 41 Irish-qualified players among the squad.

As well as having 41 Irish-qualified players the northern province have 27 players that have progressed from their academy.

The club have handed nine players that started last season in the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy new contracts and have six new players joining them

Leinster’s Jack McGrath makes his move up north along with Munster’s Bill Johnson. While former Leinster academy player David O’Connor, whose brother Alan is already a second row at the club, also comes in.

Matt Faddes joins from the Highlanders, with Gareth Milasinovich and Sam Carter as joining.

Head coach Dan McFarland is delighted to have kept such a large number of home-grown players in the squad ahead of the new season.

“It is important that we retain the best of our home-grown talent, many of whom receive attractive offers from other clubs, and we have managed to do that once again with some key re-signings. Combined with this core group of Ulster men is the vital input of our overseas players. Having players like Marcell Coetzee in the group has delivered tangible benefits both on and off the field, and I’m confident that Sam Carter and Matt Faddes will also have big impact,” he said.

McFarland is also happy to have the likes of McGrath come in and is confident of the direction in which the club is heading.

“We will also welcome the experience and quality of Jack McGrath, and the potential of Gareth Milasinovich, Bill Johnston and David O’Connor into the squad, and I’m looking forward to working with them all. The squad is developing nicely. We need to have quality throughout the squad; sometimes that’s down to recruitment, a lot of the time it’s down to bringing the young guys through. Getting a healthy mixture of the two is really important,” he added.

Ulster begin their pre-season training on the 1st of July with everyone bar the players involved with the Rugby World Cup expected to start preparing for the new season.

Check out the Full Squad Below.

Will Addison, John Andrew, Robert Baloucoune, Billy Burns, Sam Carter, Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney, Angus Curtis, Matt Faddes, Craig Gilroy, Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, James Hume, Bill Johnston, Greg Jones, Ross Kane, Angus Kernohan, Michael Lowry, Louis Ludik, Rob Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Zack McCall, Stuart McCloskey, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovic, Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, Alan O’Connor, David O’Connor, Tommy O’Hagan, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Marcus Rea, Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, Clive Ross, David Shanahan, Jonny Stewart, Jacob Stockdale, Nick Timoney, Kieran Treadwell, Andrew Warwick

Watch every Guinness PRO14 Game - Only On Premier Sports.
Continue Reading

Trending