Cotter out to burst Leinster bubble
December 18, 2010
Leinster's Anthony Floch scores against Clermont earlier this month © Getty Images
Clermont coach Vern Cotter is hoping to prevent Leinster becoming runaway leaders in Pool Two of the Heineken Cup when they cross swords at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The Irish province and 2009 European champions top the group by a single point and would be a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages if they topple second place Clermont. Clermont have a reputation for being poor travellers but Cotter is determined to shed that image by triumphing in a repeat of last year's quarter-final.
"The European Cup is very important to Leinster and they know that with one win, they are virtually assured of qualifying," said Cotter. "If we want to play in the quarter-finals and relive the same experience as last season, it is imperative we win in Dublin."
Leinster have been lifted by the return of Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip. O'Driscoll has recovered from the jaw injury sustained on Ireland duty against Argentina last month while Heaslip has shaken off an ankle problem, though he is still subject to a late fitness test. The match at Lansdowne Road will be a record pool attendance for an Irish province with over 43,000 tickets already sold.
Wasps' starting line-up is unchanged for their showdown with Newport Gwent Dragons in tomorrow's early kick off at Adams Park. The Aviva Premiership club won 23-16 at Cardiff City Stadium last weekend and will stay in the hunt for a quarter-final place if they dispatch the Dragons in successive weekends.
"While we expressed some disappointment in our own performance last week, ultimately we got the result we needed after being put under pressure by a very good Dragons team," said Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks.
Riki Flutey has been named on Wasps' bench with the England centre in line to make his first appearance since sustaining a calf injury in October.
"Riki has worked hard to come back from a lengthy calf injury and bolsters our bench for this important fixture," said Hanks.
Cardiff will attempt to keep their fading hopes of a quarter-final place alive by beating Pool One leaders Northampton.
Leicester will be seeking to avenge last weekend's defeat by Perpignan in the return at Welford Road while Edinburgh host Castres.
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