Monday 20 May 2019

De Villiers won't face Munster as Hanrahan makes his case to square up against Carter

Ma’a Nonu: First Toulon appearance
Ma’a Nonu: First Toulon appearance
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leicester's director of rugby Richard Cockerill has ruled out any chance of Jean de Villiers playing against Munster over the next two weekends in the Champions Cup.

The South African is recovering from a broken jaw sustained in the World Cup against Argentina and had hoped to make his Leicester debut against his former team-mates either next Saturday at Thomond Park or the following week at Welford Road.

"His jaw is not ready yet," said Cockerill, who may also have to plan without hooker Greg Bateman who picked up a shoulder injury on Saturday.

Leicester, who made eight changes for their clash with Worcester on Saturday, will be without flanker Mike Williams for the games against Munster after the flanker from Zimbabwe broke his arm in the opening half.

The Tigers came from 17-0 down after 21 minutes to win 29-20 after former Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan was sent off after half-time when he picked up a second yellow card.

O'Callaghan's former Munster team-mate JJ Hanrahan took his chance in the Northampton Saints No 10 shirt on Saturday as he delivered the clutch kick his side needed to beat Bath at the Rec.

Although regular kicker Stephen Myler had been introduced as a second-half substitute in the tight affair, the Kerryman retained the kicking tee when an opportunity presented itself with three minutes to go and he nailed the 45-metre effort to give Jim Mallinder's side the points with a 13-11 win.

In difficult conditions, the 23-year-old, who moved from Munster last summer, put in a tidy performance and handled the inclement weather better than England star George Ford who endured a nightmare afternoon as Bath's mediocre start to the season continued.

Hanrahan will hope that he did enough to hold on the shirt for the Saints' back-to-back European fixtures with Racing 92 which would pit him up against Dan Carter who is expected to make his debut for the Parisians when the sides meet at the Stade Yves de Manoir next weekend.

Carter's World Cup-winning team-mate Ma'a Nonu warmed up for Leinster by making his first appearance in the black and red of Toulon on Saturday as they ran in eight tries to defeat Agen and continue their impressive reaction to losing their first European game of the season to Wasps.

The centre was part of an all-star backline that also included Wallabies Drew Mitchell, James O'Connor and Matt Giteau who wore the No 10 shirt to accommodate the new arrival, while Bryan Habana and Quade Cooper were on the bench.

It was a statement of intent from the four-in-a-row-chasing European champions who welcome Leinster to the Stade Felix Mayol next Sunday where Leo Cullen's side's faint hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals are expected to be extinguished.

While the names in the backline shimmered on Saturday, a pack featuring Duane Vermeulen and Samu Manoa did plenty of damage too, with Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Romain Taofifeuna and Steffon Armitage all getting on the score-sheet. Toulouse kept pace with Paul O'Connell's new side as they geared up for this visit to Kingspan Stadium on Friday night with a comfortable win over Oyonnax at home. Australia forward Tala Gray scored two tries as they continued their strong start to the domestic season and will present a stiff challenge for Les Kiss' depleted Ulster side this week.

Meanwhile, England's new coach Eddie Jones looks set to be without Lions prop Alex Corbisiero and promising Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade for the Six Nations. Corbisiero needs knee surgery on a long-standing problem, while Slade broke his leg against Wasps on Saturday and had an operation on the injury yesterday.

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