Harinordoquy a major doubt for showdown with Munster
BIARRITZ could be without inspirational back-row Imanol Harinordoquy for their Heineken Cup semi-final against Munster, but Toulouse have played down fears their star flanker Thierry Dusautoir will miss the clash with Leinster in the other semi-final.
Harinordoquy broke his nose after taking a massive hit from France team-mate Sebastien Chabal at the weekend as Racing Metro 92 scored a fantastic 29-22 victory to secure the final Top 14 play-off spot at Biarritz's expense.
While he has not been definitively ruled out of the San Sebastian semi-final, reports in France claim Harinordoquy will not play again this season; that would be a massive blow for the Basque outfit and a big boost for Munster.
Harinordoquy, who can play across the back-row, has been in superb form for club and country.
With their Top 14 interest ended, Biarritz will channel all their energies into the Heineken Cup. They have back-row options in the shape of Fabien Alexandre, Trevor Hall, England international Magnus Lund and Tongan Samiu Vahafolau, but none is in the same class as Harinordoquy.
Meanwhile, Toulouse issued a statement yesterday contradicting reports which claimed Dusautoir had picked up a thigh strain in the 15-13 defeat to Bourgoin and was a doubt for the Leinster match.
"Contrary to what had been announced, Thierry Dusautoir does not have a thigh strain," read the statement. "He is in contention for this weekend's game against Castres."
Toulouse scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde is unconcerned by the weekend defeat as the club are safely through to the Top 14 play-offs and says their priority is Leinster.
"The club's main objective is the European Cup semi-final and the Bourgoin defeat does not change much for the rest of the (Top 14) Championship. The shortest way to go to the Stade de France is to beat Leinster and that is what we are going to focus for the next fortnight," he said.
"This weekend we face Castres, but is it really our priority? Do we not stake everything on the European Cup? The coaches will talk about it this week but I feel that everything will be wagered on the weekend after."