Rugby: French side hit by further injury woes

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TOULOUSE have been hit by further injury blows ahead of Saturday’s Heineken European Cup clash with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.

As well as losing top backs Vincent Clerc and Maxime Medard and forwards Gary Botha and Gurthro Steenkamp the Frenchmen will be without French international lock Romain Millo-Chluski.

And, battling to be on the plane, are All Black stand off Luke McAllister, Australian Test scrum half Luke Burgess and Pumas lock Patricio Albacete, although the last two have this week returned to training after long lay-offs.

All this appears to have put Toulouse coach Guy Noves in defensive mood about a match where ticket sales have now risen to 32,500, albeit he can still call on Yves Donguy, the leading try scorer in the French Top 14 with ten, and Timoci Matanavou, who tops the Euro try table with seven.

Said Noves: “We know the traps we must avoid at Murrayfield. For Edinburgh it is their most important game of the season so we will face highly motivated players and we must stay calm and be patient.

“I am afraid of Edinburgh’s will power and their determination to stay in the tournament after their impressive performances in the pool stage when they only suffered one defeat,” said Noves.

“To win a Heineken Cup game away from home is tremendously difficult and they did that at Racing Metro 92 and London Irish which proves the quality of the team. On top of that, they are very good technically and at ball retention and going through many phases.

“They are playing with a lot of movement and we know that we will not exhaust them by playing that kind of rugby.

“So, while I am certainly afraid of their enthusiasm and their technical qualities, I am also afraid of the talents of some of those Scottish players we saw in the Six Nations and we will need to be at our best in all aspects of the game – preparation, discipline, concentration and the set moves.

“It is a knock-out game and we must be focused on the job in hand and not be distracted by anything else.”