The Russian Bears and French Barbarians enter the international arena this weekend. Here’s a look at their squads as they prepare for Japan and Samoa respectively. Match previews to follow!
Kingsley Jones has selected a bare-bones Russian side to face Japan and the United States on successive weekends. A huge number of players are injured or unavailable, leaving their already difficult task even more so. Flankers Evegeni Matveev and Andrei Temnov, scrumhalf Alexander Shakirov, fullback Igor Kliuchnikov, plus centres Sergei Trishin and Mikhail Babaev are on the disabled list. Another scrumhalf, Alexander Yanyushkin, is being rested along with Sale Sharks lock pair Kirill Kulemin and Andrei Ostrikov.
Captaining the side is veteran second row and principal lineout target Alexander Voytov, who is joined in a nevertheless experienced pack by former Wasps duo Viktor Gresev and Vladislav Korshunov, a former captain now recalled to the side. Yuri Kushnarev and Sergey Sugrobov are set to compete for the no10 jersey, while centre Igor Galinovski joins the team for the first time since the World Cup two years ago. The strongest section of the squad is undoubtedly out wide, where Northampton’s Vasili Artemyev is joined by powerful winger Vladimir Ostroushko and hugely promising fullback Denis Simplikevich.
Les Barbarians Francais have been chosen to face the Manu Samoa at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday evening. The coaching trio of Fabrice Landreau, Franck Corrihons, and Philippe Rouge-Thomas have had to make changes to their original selection of 23, with three players called up to the senior French side. Kenan Mutapcic, Jonathan Best, and Valentin Courrent, all of Grenoble, replace Yannick Forester, Jonathan Pelissie, and Antonie Claassen respectively.
Retired Toulouse star William Servat, now the club’s forwards coach, was originally expected to captain the side in his farewell match, but has since been replaced by in-form Stade Francais hooker Remi Bonfils. Home-town hero Aurelien Rougerie will captain the side, with muscular Remi Lamerat of Castres forming an imposing midfield partnership. South African export Rory Kockott and former All Black star Sitiveni Sivivatu are notable foreigners in the squad.
EDIT: Rory Kockott is a late scratch from the team, replaced by Heini Adams.