Three duels to follow in the semi-final of Top 14 Castres-Toulouse

Gaëtan Barlot – Julien Marchand

Gaëtan Barlot and Julien Marchand will offer a very hard-hitting hooker face-to-face this Friday. Very skilled with the ball, the Castrese has proven over the past two seasons that he is one of the very best in his position in the French Championship. It is no coincidence that Fabien Galthié now calls him regularly in Blue. But Barlot (25) still remains behind Julien Marchand (27).

More experienced, the Toulousain shares number 2 with Peato Mauvaka in club and selection, without this reducing the performance of either. An excellent scratcher (17 turnovers this season), Marchand is one of the leaders who will try to lead the Stade back to Saint-Denis.

Mathieu Babillot – Anthony Jelonch

They know each other very well since they played for five seasons together in the Castres jersey. But not sure that Mathieu Babillot (28) and Anthony Jelonch (25) give each other a lot of gifts. The Tarn captain has proven for several years that he is an effective leader of men, as during the conquest of the Shield of Brennus in 2018.

Mathieu Babillot should give voice against Stade Toulousain.  (A. Martin/The Team)

Mathieu Babillot should give voice against Stade Toulousain. (A. Martin/The Team)

Captain of the Blues during the tour of Australia last summer, Jelonch can also become a leader. But where the Toulousain impresses the most is his hardness in contact, which makes him one of the most effective ball carriers at the Stade, where he won with ease in the third row for his first season in red and black.

Vilimoni Botitu – Pita Ahki

Each in a different style, they are the bridgeheads in their team’s back line. Explosive and intelligent, Vilimoni Botitu has had an incredible season with the CO, embodying the club’s number 1 offensive weapon. The Fijian center (24 years old) offered six tries and is one of the best franchisors in the Top 14 thanks to his quality of support and his acceleration.

Pita Ahki finds support against Stade Rochelais, in the play-off.  (A. Mounic/The Team)

Pita Ahki finds support against Stade Rochelais, in the play-off. (A. Mounic/The Team)

Less spectacular, Pita Ahki remains one of the best players in his position in the Championship. The New Zealander (29) knows how to make his power speak when necessary (42 defenders beaten), but above all, he reads and analyzes the opposing game with great finesse, which allows him to find solutions quickly in attack, and to recover from badly embarked blows in defense.

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