Traille loses final fitness battle but Harinordoquy should be fit

BIARRITZ centre Damien Traille has lost his battle to be fit for the Heineken Cup final after failing to recover in time from a fractured forearm.

But Imanol Harinordoquy, who played with a broken nose and rib injury in the semi-final, is expected to play. “Imanol is not in pain any more,” said Biarritz boss Laurent Rodriguez yesterday. “We are confident he will be able to lead our team.”

Byron Kelleher and Thierry Dusautoir should return to the Toulouse line-up.

Former All Blacks scrum-half Kelleher was rested as Toulouse were beaten 21-13 by Perpignan in the semi-finals of the French Championship last Saturday.

Captain Dusautoir, a losing finalist with Biarritz in 2006 and again in 2008 with Toulouse, both to Munster, was used as a replacement.

Others who could return to the starting side are hooker William Servat, prop Benoit Lecouls and wing Vincent Clerc.

Toulouse, who have a record three Heineken Cup wins (1996, 2003, 2005) to their name and are in their sixth final, will start favourites at the Stade de France.

Wing Cedric Heymans could feature in his sixth Heineken final, while four other Toulouse players – centre Yannick Jauzion, hooker William Servat, prop Jean-Baptiste Poux and flanker Jean Bouilhou – could play in their fifth.

Biarritz, who have three England internationals – full-back Iain Balshaw, centre Ayoola Erinle and flanker Magnus Lund – in their squad, are hopeful of claiming their first European crown at the second attempt.

The Basque outfit lost the 2006 final to Munster at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

“The 2006 final is a very bitter memory,” recalled number eight Harinordoquy.

“I didn’t even want the runners-up medal. What drove me mad was the feeling that we were not ready for the event. The Millennium Stadium was heaving with 40-50,000 Irish supporters and I think our players went to pieces. This time we won’t make the same mistakes.

“This year I really believe in what we are doing. We are not favourites, but I really think we stand a chance. These are games that are won through your desire and group solidarity.

“We have enough determination to bring the Heineken Cup back to Biarritz.”

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