European Rugby Champions Cup: Exeter Chiefs v Castres

0
84


Nowell, 25, suffered a torn hamstring in the build-up to England’s Test against Australia in November
European Rugby Champions Cup
Venue: Sandy Park Date: Sunday, 13 January Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC local radio; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Jack Nowell makes his Exeter comeback as the Chiefs prepare for a must-win Champions Cup game against Castres.

Nowell, who last played for Exeter in October, has recovered from a hamstring injury sustained on England duty to come in at full-back.

Fellow England international Alec Hepburn is in at prop, with flanker Don Armand back involved after being rested for the win over Bristol.

Castres prefer Ludovic Radosavljevic to Rory Kockott at scrum-half.

Pool Two is the most competitive of five groups after four rounds of matches with only four points separating leaders Munster from Exeter and Gloucester in third and fourth respectively.

Pool Five
Played Won Points
1. Munster 4 2 12
2. Castres 4 2 9
3. Exeter 4 1 8
4. Gloucester 4 2 9

With a trip to Thomond Park to come in the final set of matches, director of rugby Rob Baxter has called on Exeter to live up to their reputation as a team for the big encounters.

“I’ve said to the lads, if we go to Munster with something to play for, you’re effectively in the last 16 of Europe,” he said.

“If we win this week and we go there with something to fight for, it’s probably a straight knock-out match and you’d probably take that in a lot of ways.”

Castres are reigning Top 14 champions, but have been in indifferent form this season and currently lie eighth in the French top flight.

They secured a controversial 13-12 home win over Munster last time out in Europe. Kockott and replacement hooker Marc-Antoine Rallier were cited and suspended after the match for foul play.

“We see a quality side, there’s a lot of threats there as they showed by coming back from being 14 points down against us and working their way back to a win,” added Baxter.

“There’s going to be a lot of challenges there, but when you know there’s a lot of challenges probably the most important thing to do is focus on yourself.

“We’ve traditionally played pretty well against French teams here when our backs have been against the wall so let’s make sure it brings the best out of us and we enjoy the day.”

Line-ups

Exeter: Nowell; Cordero, Slade, Devoto, O’Flaherty; Simmonds, White; Hepburn, Yeandle (captain), Francis, Dennis, Hill, Skinner, Armand, Kvesic.

Replacements: Cowen-Dickie, Moon, Williams, Lees, Lonsdale, Maunder, Steenson, Whitten.

Montpellier: Palis ; Paris, Combezou, Ebersohn (captain), Smith ; Urdapilleta, Radosavljevic; Tichit, Jenneker, Kotze, Lassalle, Jacquet, Gerondeau, Delaporte, Vaipulu.

Replacements: Firmin, Stroe, M. Clerc, Mafi, Jelonch, Tulou, Vialelle, Kockott.

For the latest rugby union news follow @bbcrugbyunion