Ahead of the Top 14 final we take a look at the Players to Watch.
Ruan Pienaar (Montpellier)
At the age of 34, Pienaar has been one Montpellier’s best players as they chase their maiden Top 14 title. He has featured in 19 of the sides 27 matches scoring 190 points - 17 of which were in the semi-final against Lyon. He also picked up a try assist in the semi final to add to the 16 he had before the game.
Julien Dumora (Castres)
The Castres’ fullback has been cool and collected at the back throughout the season and has been a real standout as his side made their way to the final. The pressure does not seem to get to Dumora and he showed that multiple times in the semi-final.
Francois Steyn (Montpellier)
Another South African plying his trade with Montpellier, Pienaar’s former halfback partner at school level was in fine form at outside centre against Lyon. He beat a joint game high of 4 defenders and made 2 clean breaks. Castres won’t forget that Steyn’s long range could hurt them with a 60 metre penalty well within his range.
Rory Kockott (Castres)
Yet another South African makes the cut and rightfully so, Castres were under pressure for long periods of the game but Kockott got his side out of trouble with a number of fantastic clearances at crucial times. Like Steyn, Kockott provides Castres with an additional kicking option from the tee and has shown that he can also hit them from inside his own half.
Louis Picamoles (Montpellier)
Picamoles was in fine form in the semi-final making 50 running metres from his 9 carries and beat a total of 4 defenders - a joint game high. The experience French International also made all 8 of his attempted tackles and won a turnover to cap off a fantastic allround performance. Expect nothing less from no.8 and his loose trio partners with all three starters not missing a single tackle against Lyon.
Ma’ama Vaipulu (Castres)
The Castres no.8 put in a massive 40 minutes in the semi-final against Racing 92 making 8 carries and 10 tackles. Vaipulu is likely to get more game time in the final after an exceptional 40 minutes. He got Castres on the front foot at scrum time with some great carries off the back - even when the scrum was tracking backwards. Mathieu Babillot and Anthony Jelonch will complete a back row with an extremely high work rate.
Nemani Nadolo (Montpellier)
The Fijian international had a quiet game in the semi-finals - by his high standards - but he still managed to superbly finish off a try. Nadolo will punish Castres at every opportunity he gets and Castres winger Armand Battle will need to be on top of his game defensively to keep him quiet.
Antoine Tichit (Castres)
The Castres will have another tough battle come scrum time in having faced off against Ben Tameifuna and Cedate Gomes Sa in the semi-final. Tichit had a solid game and will look to build on that in the final. His ball carrying and his crunching tackles will give Castres a huge boost against a heavy Montpellier pack.