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Kolisi expected to return for Racing 92

TOP 14 PREVIEW: The Racing 92 supporters will be hoping for some good news as their team takes Clermont in the Top 14 clash on Saturday.

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With just seven rounds of the regular season to play, every match is crucial for the Top 14 clash.

South Africa’s World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi could make his return from a hand injury as Racing 92 host Clermont on Saturday.

Kolisi suffered the injury while playing for Racing 92 in their 5-21 Top 14 loss to Bordeaux on March 2.

The Springbok went on to play the full 80 minutes.

However, he went under the knife a few days later.

Earlier this month he shared an update in the wake of the operation via Instagram and stated he would be back soon.

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While it has been reported that the Springbok will miss his side’s Top 14 encounter against Clermont, as well as the Champions Cup Round of 16 encounters with Toulouse, AFP reports that he might be in action this weekend.

Elsewhere league leaders Stade Francais head to struggling Montpellier.

Saturday’s other highlight is Toulouse and their returning flyhalf Romain Ntamack welcoming Sam Whitelock’s Pau, with the former New Zealand lock the subject of speculation about a return to Test rugby under new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson.

Bayonne and Toulon conclude the weekend with an incredible fixture on Sunday.

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That game has been moved 50km to the southern part of the Basque country, over the Spanish border, to the home of football club Real Sociedad in San Sebastian.

A healthy crowd at the 39,000-capacity Reale Arena ground is expected on an Easter holiday weekend as Bayonne eye keeping their unbeaten home record this season and a late push for the playoffs.

It will be the sixth time for Bayonne to take a Top 14 game to the city and Bayonne centre Federico Mori will see a familiar face there in Toulon’s Italy flyhalf Paolo Garbisi.

“We don’t usually send messages before the match but we’ll see each other on the field and after,” Bayonne centre Federico Mori said.

“We’ll be happy to see each other, play the game and drink a beer afterwards,” he added.

Italy ended their best-ever Six Nations campaign two weeks ago giving BMori a spike in confidence before Sunday’s French Top 14 match with Toulon.

Mori, 23, played four games as the Azzurri won two games, against Scotland and Wales, and drew with France, their best return since joining the tournament in 2000.

Despite the results they were still only fifth in the table, after coming within a width of a post of defeating France, failing to match their fourth-placed finishes in 2007 and 2013.

“The standings don’t do justice to what we did,” Mori told AFP.

“If we had beaten France we could have been third or second.

“Apart from that we’re happy. We’re starting to be a team full of confidence,” he added.

Mori, the nephew of former world 400m hurdles champion Fabrizio Mori, made his 17th Test appearance in the Scotland win, Italy’s first Six Nations victory at home since 2013.

He joined Basque outfit Bayonne at the start of the campaign after two years with Bordeaux-Begles.

Mori’s new hometown is well-known for its cured ham, sheep’s cheese from the nearby Pyrenees and the region’s small tapas-like dishes called pintxos.

“I think it’s really good here but it’s a bit dangerous,” Mori jokingly said.

“You have to control yourself if not your body mass percentage will increase.”

 ‘Idol’ Tuilagi

Next season stocky-build Mori will feature alongside former England centre Manu Tuilagi, 32, after the powerful midfielder signed a two-year deal with Bayonne, three-time French champions.

“When I was younger I watched him on the television, he’s one of the best centres in the world,” Mori said.

“He’s one of my idols, along with Ma’a Nonu.

“If it happens that I play 12 and him at 13 or the opposite, it will be ‘wow’ it’s really magnificent.

“I will be able to learn a lot from him and it will help me a lot to progress,” he added.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Saturday

Montpellier v Stade Francais (14.00)
Perpignan v Castres (16.00)
La Rochelle v Oyonnax (16.00)
Lyon v Bordeaux-Begles (16.00)
Racing 92 v Clermont (16.00)
Toulouse v Pau (20.05)

Sunday

Bayonne v Toulon (19.05)

 

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