La Rochelle gets Danty boost ahead of Euro Final
PREVIEW: France centre Jonathan Danty and back row muscle Yoan Tanga and Levani Botia are set to return from injury to bolster La Rochelle’s Top 14 hopes on Saturday.
Their return comes a week before the Atlantic coast side takes on Leinster in the Champions Cup Final.
Ronan O’Gara’s team travel down to the Mediterranean to face last season’s Top 14 champions Montpellier knowing that just a single point from the penultimate round of matches in the regular season will be enough to send them directly into the semifinals.
Teams finishing third to sixth will be forced to play an extra match in the play-offs.
Danty missed the Champions Cup semifinal win over Exeter after suffering a rib injury in mid-April but the powerhouse centre is ready to return.
Fijian Botia had to observe a 10-day rest protocol after being concussed against Exeter.
Tanga has recovered from a thigh injury.
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“They are all fit and ready for this weekend,” backs coach Sebastien Boboul said.
“They will have some game time, some may have more than others depending on how they quickly they find their rhythm.”
Montpellier coach Philippe Saint-Andre, meanwhile, has dropped two of his international heavyweights Mohamed Haouas and Paul Willemse after a dressing room bust-up following their loss to bottom club Brive last weekend.
Despite that win, Brive will be relegated if they lose to Castres and Perpignan topple the leaders Toulouse.
Toulouse booked their place in the semis last weekend with an impressive win over Bordeaux-Begles but another six teams are realistically still in the hunt for the final four places, including eighth-placed Bayonne who must beat Clermont to stay in the race.
Third-placed Stade Francais (64 points) look sure to pick up a play-off berth but Sunday’s opponents Lyon (60) will be feeling the heat while Racing 92 (61) face a tough battle at home to Toulon (57). that game is being played in Le Havre because Bruce Springsteen will be in concert at La Defence Arena, Racing’s regular home ground.