Harinordoquy boost for Biarritz

BIARRITZ and France international No.8 Imanol Harinordoquy is fit for Sunday’s Heineken Cup semi-final with Munster at San Sebastian.

The inspirational back row forward sustained a fractured nose in a Top 14 match against Racing Metro a fortnight ago but medics yesterday gave him the all clear to face Ronan O’Gara’s men at Estadio Anoeta.

“Imanol will play,” declared Biarritz president Serge Blanco last night. “It’s a very heavy handicap to lose Damien (Traille) but this team of friends have the heart to play in the final. I’m sure Biarritz will be competitive.”

Given the injury to Traille and the uncertainty over Harinordoquy, sections of the French media have made Biarritz underdogs for the game. However captain Jérôme Thion yesterday rejected such a tag

“That’s what they say in the press but no matter who they are, we’re sure of our abilities,” said Thion.

“We’re working towards winning the match. We intend meeting the challenge head-on. We don’t put importance on whether someone is an outsider or underdog.

“We know what we’re capable of and we’re not ashamed of the players that we have. It’s been a massive blow to lose the likes of Damien but that’s just a challenge to overcome. We will have to make up for his absence whether it’s our kicking game or our ability to penetrate the gainline.”

Thion had plenty of praise for Tony McGahan’s side but the former French international lock insisted they would not shirk at the challenges.

He added: “They are a complete side. They’ve been at the summit of European rugby for seven years or more. They’ve got a pack which has been known for a decade.

“They are a team that do everything in an efficient manner whether it is in terms of their alignment, out of touch, in the scrum or in the ruck. They are also a team that know how to dig deep and battle on. We have to perform as well as possible in these areas. We’re going to have to do the maximum just to be in the game.”

Thion highlighted discipline as being key to the outcome.

“Discipline is quite possibly the most important thing in order to win. This will be our battle-cry for the fixture. If you concede more than ten penalties, it’s always difficult.

“We’ve gotten this far, we’re not going to stop now.

“Our objective is to be champions but to do that we need to beat Munster and that won’t be easy.”

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