Rugby

7 Saffers start for Jake’s Montpellier

2016-05-13 09:01
Jake White (AP)

Cape Town - Seven South Africans will start for Jake White’s Montpellier in Friday's European Challenge Cup final against Harlequins in Lyon, France.

In the backline, Frans Steyn features at centre with Demetri Catrakilis starting at flyhalf ahead of Francois Trinh-Duc, who is short of match fitness following an ankle injury.

Up front, Pierre Spies starts at flank, Paul Willemse and Jacques du Plessis form the lock partnership, while brothers Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis occupy the front row.

Another, South African, centre Robert Ebersohn, will provide cover off the bench.

This is the French club’s first ever appearance in a European final since their creation in 1986.

"We have the possibility of winning a title, to give pleasure to all the team, the club and the city,” captain Fulgence Ouedraogo told AFP.

"We want to be the first to lift a Challenge Cup, the first to perhaps win the Top 14."

Meanwhile, Harlequins will bid for a fourth European Challenge Cup title and a perfect send-off for outgoing coach Connor O'Shea.

O'Shea will leave the London club, who previously won the Challenge Cup in 2001, 2004 and 2011, at the end of the season to take over from Jacques Brunel as head coach of Italy.

"It would be nice to send Conor away with a trophy," said England fullback Mike Brown, the Irish coach having overseen Harlequins' last Challenge Cup final victory in 2011 and having also led the club to the Premiership title a year later.

"Montpellier are full of South Africans and will not take a backward step. We know it is going to be tough. We have a good track record in France and in this competition. There is no reason why we cannot win."

The season, however, has been disappointing on the domestic front, with Quins slumping to seventh in the Premiership. Their last league match saw Exeter run out convincing 62-24 winners.

But European rugby has been a happier hunting ground for the Londoners, and with six wins from seven, they have led the tournament in all major categories including points scored (293), tries scored (39), metres made (4,065) and clean breaks (101).

Importantly, qualification for next season's Champions Cup is up for grabs for the winner.

Quins' sole loss came away to Montpellier earlier in the year after the French side avenged a 41-18 loss at The Stoop with a 42-9 victory at Altrad Stadium in the final round of the pool stages.

Kick-off is scheduled for 21:00 (SA time).

Teams:

Harlequins

15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care (captain), 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 James Horwill, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Mat Luamanu, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm

Montpellier 

15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Marvin O'Connor, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic White, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Pierre Spies, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo (captain), 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Jannie Du Plessis, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikehil Nariashvili

Substitutes: 16 Mickael Ivaldi, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Kelian Galletier, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Robert Ebersohn, 23 Jesse Mogg

Read more on:    harlequins  |  montpellier  |  jake white  |  rugby
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