Darren Sweetnam has missed out on a spot on the bench for Friday’s night’s Top 14 final in what would have been his last game for La Rochelle.
The former Munster winger, who was brought in by Ronan O’Gara as a ‘medical joker’ on a short-term contract at the beginning of April, is not included in the 23 for the decider against Toulouse at the Stade de France (Premier Sports, Ch 412, 7.45 pm).
However, the Cork man is poised to remain in French rugby next season, and is being lined up for a move to Pro D2 side Oyonnax.
Due to the FFR’s JIFF regulations – introduced to enhance the prospects of indigenous talent in France – Top 14 squads can only have six overseas players in their matchday 23 from next season, which limits the opportunity for an import like Sweetnam. However, if he delivers with Oyonnax in the new campaign, there’s every prospect he could land a contract with a Top 14 side the following year.
Meanwhile, out-half Romain Ntamack has been ruled out for Toulouse tonight after suffering a heavy midfield collision and concussion in the semi-final win over Bordeaux-Begles last Saturday. Thomas Ramos will partner Antoine Dupont at half-back for the European champions, who are looking to deny La Rochelle a first Bouclier in their 123-year history.
O’Gara is without the hugely influential French hooker Pierre Bourgarit, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month, and also the dynamic, powerful centre Levani Botia, who is suspended after a red card in the Champions Cup final at Twickenham.
Dulin, Leyds, Rhule, Doumayrou, Retiere, West, West, kerr-Barlow; Wardi, Bosch, Atonio, Sazy (cap), Skelton, Liebenberg, Gourdon, Alldritt.
: Lagrange, Priso, Lavault, Vito, Le Bail, Plisson, Favre, Joly.
Kolbe, Mallia, Chocobares, Ahki, lebel, Ramos, Dupont; Baille, J Marchand, Faumuina, Ro Arnold, Ri Arnold, Elstadt, Tolofua, Cros.
: Mauvaka, Neti, Tekora, Flament, Kaino, Bales, Medard, Aldegheri