Halfpenny remains a doubt despite being named in Toulon team
Published 18/04/2015 | 02:30
Toulon will continue to monitor the fitness of Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny before tomorrow's European Champions Cup semi-final against Leinster in Marseille with concerns over his injured shoulder.
The Wales star suffered a reported minor dislocation of the joint in last Saturday's win over Grenoble and has taken a limited part in training this week.
Bernard Laporte remains concerned over his long-range goal-kicker and has a contingency plan in place should he fail to pass himself fit before kick-off, with Steffon Armitage set to move to No 15 and Drew Mitchell primed to come in on the wing.
Armitage's brother Steffon is only fit for a place on the bench due to a knee injury, which deprives the European champions of the tournament's most-effective poacher.
Leinster youngster Ben Marshall might be leaving the province at the end of the season, but he could make his European debut off the bench after Tom Denton picked up a bicep injury. Otherwise, Matt O'Connor has selected the same 23 who faced Bath.
Meanwhile, France are set enter the bidding for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The 2007 hosts have yet to formally confirm their entry into the race, but rugby newspaper 'Midi Olympique' reports that the French Federation is ready to take on Ireland, Italy and expected entrants the United States and South Africa for the tournament.
It remains to be seen if having hosted the tournament so recently will work against France in their ambitions, but that successful staging will also point to the logistical advantages they have over some of their rivals.
England are the hosts for this year's tournament, while the 2019 instalment will take place in Japan. The decision on where the 2023 tournament will take place will be made in 2017.
More immediately, the presence of Ulster in the five-way battle for a place in the Guinness Pro12 final has helped in selling out Kingspan Stadium for the May 30 final. The last tickets available for general sale went yesterday, meaning the participants will receive an allocation of 2,000 each when the finalists are established.