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Toulouse Sweat on Big Four

21st April 2003 By Munster Rugby

Toulouse Sweat on Big Four

Toulouse are sweating on the fitness of four key players for their Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Munster at Le Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday.

Toulouse are sweating on the fitness of four key players for their Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Munster at Le Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday.

Toulouse are sweating on the fitness of four key players for their Heineken Cup semi-final clash with Munster at Le Stadium de Toulouse on Saturday.

Yann Delaigue (hamstring) and Emile Ntamack (shoulder) picked up injuries in Toulouse’s 55-33 win at Pau on Saturday. They now join Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and Trevor Brennan, who both picked up thigh injuries in the quarter-final win over Northampton Saints, on the list of major doubts. But better news for the 1996 champions of Europe was that the versatile Frédéric Michalak had an excellent game on Saturday.

He started at scrum half but moved to fly half after 25 minutes – when Delaigue was brought off as a precaution – and led his team from the front, providing them with direction and foresight, and adding 21 points to boot. "It’s great to be in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup – it’s the first time for me so I’m enjoying the experience," said Michalak. "The fact that we earned a home quarter-final was very important but Munster are one of the best – if not the best – team in Europe so it’s going to be tougher than our previous matches.

"They beat Leicester at their home ground so they are full of confidence and they are a team capable of coming to Toulouse and winning. "I don’t feel the revenge factor that some of my team may feel after losing to Munster in Bordeaux because I wasn’t playing at the time. "But it’s important to win this match because we want to go all the way to the final of this competition."

And Yannick Jauzion, who missed the first half of the season due to injury, is back to form, finishing his game on Saturday with a perfectly timed kick for Vincent Clerc to chase and score. "I wasn’t here three years ago but one of the reasons for coming to Toulouse was to win titles so it’s good to reach this stage," said the international centre.

"Being in the semi-finals reflects the hard work we put in to get a home quarter-final and the game against Northampton Saints shows the high standard of the competition at this stage. "Munster will be a harder prospect. We are looking forward to a huge match in front of 35,000 people – those are precious moments for a team. "The match against Munster in 2000 dominates the thoughts of the coach and the players that were around at that time – they talk about it quite a lot and they hate what happened on that occasion.

"All the players that played in that game can’t wait to get out and play against Munster on Saturday, to try to wipe out the bad memories they have of that day in Bordeaux three years ago." Wing Emile Ntamack added: "There is a very special flavour to being on the top of Europe’s roof, so to speak, but nothing has been achieved yet. We are capable of going all the way – but we are not the only ones.

"Perpignan, Leinster and Munster all think they want it more than the rest. If we all have the same amount of talent, we must have more desire than the others."

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