Toulouse midfield options for Munster clash hit by injury to Sofiane Guitoune

French international suffered suspected cruciate ligament tear in loss to Montpellier

Toulouse’s Sofiane Guitoune is tackled by Montpellier’s  Yacouba Camara  during the the French Top 14 game at the Ernest Wallon Stadium in Toulouse. Photograph:  Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images

Toulouse’s Sofiane Guitoune is tackled by Montpellier’s Yacouba Camara during the the French Top 14 game at the Ernest Wallon Stadium in Toulouse. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images

 

Toulouse are facing something of an injury crisis at centre ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup match against Munster at Thomond Park (3.0) after French international Sofiane Guitoune suffered what is suspected to be an anterior cruciate ligament tear to his knee in the 29-16 home defeat to Montpellier in a French Top 14 match at the weekend.

A superb athlete and a creative fulcrum, his absence will be a big blow to Saturday’s visitors to Limerick. It follows on from injuries to a number of high-profile players that have played in the centre for Toulouse this season. The versatile Thomas Ramos suffered a calf injury earlier this month and had to withdraw from the French national squad. The initial prognosis was that it would keep him sidelined for up to six weeks.

When outhalf Romain Ntamack suffered a fractured jaw early in a French Top 14 game against Bordeaux in late December, Toulouse signed 24-year-old Argentine centre Juan Cruz Mallia on a 10-month contract but he missed the Montpellier defeat with a hand injury.

Former French Sevens international Pierre Fouyssac, who plays centre or wing, wasn’t available last weekend with a tendon issue while the former Under-20 World Cup winner Lucas Tauzin also missed the defeat because he was following the graduated return to play protocols following a head injury. The 22-year-old is another who can play centre or wing.

Arthur Bonneval, a wing, was another to miss out on the Montpellier match, his issue a hand problem. Toulouse head coach Ugo Mola must now decide who will partner Pita Ahki, the former Connacht player, in the centre and the injury crux won’t have improved his humour with regard to the manner in which his side capitulated at the weekend.

He admitted: “It’s a day to forget. The quality of Montpellier has given us problems but I was worried about the subject in the middle of the week. I wish I was wrong, but when we don’t put speed into our game, we become an ordinary team. And tonight, we were very, very ordinary.”

Mola was hugely critical of his side’s lack of physical application at the breakdown and in contact, an analysis that was shared by captain Yoann Huget. He ‘thanked’ Montpellier for offering Toulouse a timely reminder of how important attitude and application is ahead of the Munster match while flanker Francois Cros suggested: “We were not worthy of our club. We missed a lot, including humility.”

Mola admitted that he was disappointed to lose a player of Guitoune’s calibre while also worried because of the injury concerns at centre ahead of the trip to Thomond Park.

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