France full-back Maxime Médard will make his return to action this weekend for Toulouse after announcing that he will retire at the end of the season.
The 35-year-old won 63 caps for les Bleus, appearing in 25 matches in the Guinness Six Nations between 2009 and 2019.
He was also part of the France team that reached the World Cup final in 2011 while at club level, Médard has won five Top 14 titles and three European Cups with Toulouse.
And after 18 seasons with France’s most successful club, Médard has decided the time is right to call it a day, following in the footsteps of teammate for club and country Yoann Huget, who retired at the end of last season.
Médard will start on the bench in Saturday’s crucial clash with La Rochelle, a remake of last year’s final, with Toulouse getting back Guinness
Six Nations Player of the Championship Antoine Dupont and half-back partner Romain Ntamack, both of whom were crucial in the recent Grand Slam.
Elsewhere, France lock Paul Willemse is back for Montpellier in their trip to Lyon while Matthieu Jalibert is set for a first appearance in three months as Bordeaux-Bègles take on Toulon.
United Rugby Championship run-in
It is incredibly tight in the race for play-off spots in the United Rugby Championship, with a massive fixture between Edinburgh and Ulster.
Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist will lead Edinburgh in a pack that also features international colleagues Hamish Watson and Stuart McInally among others, while Blair Kinghorn will be charged with pulling the strings from fly-half.
Ulster have an international lock of their own to captain the team, Ireland’s Iain Henderson, while Mike Lowry will return to full-back after playing in the No.10 jersey a week ago.
Meanwhile over in Wales, Scarlets welcome back Liam Williams to a side captained by Jonathan Davies for their derby encounter with the Ospreys, for whom Gareth Anscombe starts at fly-half.
Leicester pull out the big guns for Bristol
In England, Leicester Tigers have responded to last week’s narrow defeat at Harlequins by naming a strong side to take on Bristol Bears.
England full-back Freddie Steward is among those to return to the side, while Ellis Genge is promoted from the bench against the team he will join next season.
Steve Borthwick’s side lead the way and could clinch a home semi-final this week with victory and other results going their way.
Elsewhere, Owen Farrell will look to continue his fine recent form since returning from injury when Saracens take on Worcester Warriors, while third-placed Harlequins travel to Northampton Saints on Friday night.