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Ramos set to play leading role in Top 14 semi-finals

Ramos set to play leading role in Top 14 semi-finals
  • France full-back expected to start at fly-half for Toulouse against La Rochelle
  • Greig Laidlaw goes up against Baptiste Couilloud as Clermont take on Lyon
  • French World Cup squad to be announced three days after the final

France full-back Thomas Ramos looks set to be charged with running the show for Toulouse this weekend at fly-half for their Top 14 semi-final against La Rochelle.

The 23-year-old made his Test debut during the Guinness Six Nations, with his first start coming in the No.15 jersey against Scotland.

That is the position he has spent much of this season, but with injuries at fly-half, he is expected to swap positions and partner international teammate Antoine Dupont in the half-backs.

Ramos has experience at fly-half, having started six games in the position already this season including the European semi-final against Leinster back in April.

Toulouse enjoyed a record-breaking campaign, finishing with the most points in the history of the Top 14, led by a number of French internationals including Dupont and Ramos, as well as experienced back three players Yoann Huget and Maxime Médard.

They will face a La Rochelle team who won away at Racing 92 last Friday and have a fellow Test novice playing an important role. Grégory Alldritt has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign both at club and international level, including a two-try display against Scotland.

He is set to start at No.8 in the game in Bordeaux on Saturday having come off the bench in all five of France’s games during the Championship.

SCRUM-HALF BATTLE

In the other semi-final there will be an interesting face-off between a pair of international scrum-halves, one vastly experienced, the other still breaking through at the top level.

With Morgan Parra injured, Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw will have an even greater responsibility for Clermont as he goes up against Lyon’s Baptiste Couilloud.

The French youngster made his debut in last year’s Championship, but endured a spell on the sidelines this year because of broken leg.

He has returned in recent weeks and will be looking to help Lyon to a first final, after they reached the semis for the second successive season.

Laidlaw showed all his experience when Clermont took the Challenge Cup title against La Rochelle, and his partnership with Camille Lopez could be crucial to the hopes of Les Jaunards.

Elsewhere Félix Lambey could go up against France teammate Sébastien Vahaamahina in the second row.

The Lyon lock suffered a head injury in the win over Montpellier but could make his return for Sunday’s game at the Matmut Stadium, with Vahaamahina sure to start for Clermont.