RugbyU: Michalak on Toulon bench for European Cup final

Mercurial French half-back Frederic Michalak will start on the bench for Toulon against Clermont in the European Cup final on Saturday.

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte stuck with the same starting XV that beat Saracens 24-12 in the semi-final.

South African Danie Rossouw has overcome a twisted knee to retain his place in the backrow, with erstwhile captain and compatriot Joe Van Niekerk named among the replacements.

Michalak made his Top 14 comeback after an eight-week injury lay-off only two weeks ago but will provide cover for Sebastien Tillous-Borde and captain Jonny Wilkinson at Landsdowne Road.

Tillous-Borde is one of only four French players in the starting line-up, alongside powerhouse centre Mathieu Bastareaud, winger Alexis Palisson and veteran hooker Sebastien Bruno.

They are complemented by some of the best-known names in international rugby, Australian playmaker Matt Giteau rubbing shoulders with enforcers Chris Masoe and Bakkies Botha, Argentinian flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and ex-All Black prop Carl Hayman, among others.

Toulon team (15-1)

Delon Armitage; Rudi Wulf, Mathieu Bastareaud, Matt Giteau, Alexis Palisson; Jonny Wilkinson (capt), Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Chris Masoe, Danie Rossouw; Nick Kennedy, Bakkies Botha; Carl Hayman, Sebastien Bruno, Andrew Sheridan

Replacements: Jean-Charles Orioli, Gethin Jenkins, Davit Kubriashvili, Joe van Niekerk, Steffon Armitage, Maxime Mermoz, Frederic Michalak, Jocelino Suta