Stade Rochelais, attractive this season (second in the championship and finalist in the European Cup), does not approach its semi-final of the Top 14 against Racing 92 (this Friday, at 8:45 p.m., in Lille) in the best conditions .
The Maritimes will be deprived of their international hooker Pierre Bourgarit, injured, and their pair of center Botia (suspended) - Doumayrou (injured).
Not ideal before the shock against Racing 92, in a good dynamic after their victory in the play-off against Stade Français (38-21).
La Rochelle qualified directly for the semi-finals and did not play last week.
"The weekend of rest was good for everyone," tempers Jono Gibbes, the manager of La Rochelle.
"We took advantage of this week to recover, to gain energy, we are well on a physical level," says the New Zealander.
🏉 Implementation 🏉 # Lille2021 # DemiesTOP14 #FievreSR pic.twitter.com/8BDYT2HS5r
- Stade Rochelais (@staderochelais) June 17, 2021
Faced with the upcoming Racing, with an almost complete workforce, La Rochelle wants to be positive.
“Injury is like that, it's rugby.
We have a group, beyond 23, ready to give the maximum.
It's a highlight of our season.
We did not waste our time worrying about absent players, we invested in the players present to prepare for this big match against Racing, ”explains Jono Gibbes.
"We can no longer be satisfied with being in the semi-finals"
Captain and second row Romain Sazy, who has known everything in La Rochelle, from Pro D2 to the Top 14 semi-finals (2017 and 2019) and the European Cup final (2021), wants to see further.
“The club has grown.
Personally and collectively, we can no longer be satisfied with being in the semi-finals.
We want to win and be champion.
We have progressed, we are gaining momentum, ”he assures us.
Read alsoSemi-final of the Top 14: against La Rochelle, Racing will have to avoid air holes
Faced with Racing, and in particular its impressive three-quarter line with the pair of centers of the XV of France Fickou-Vakatawa, La Rochelle considers itself sufficiently armed.
“We are focused on ourselves,” says third row Kevin Gourdon.
They have incredible three-quarters, the centers of the France team.
But we also have a lot of quality behind.
Even if we were a little average against Clermont (
Editor's note: 25-20 defeat on June 5
), I have full confidence.
"And with the contribution of Brice Dulin, former Racing 92 (2014-2020)," we know where we are going ", adds Gourdon.
The duel will not be without salt, despite the injuries. “The European experience has given us confidence,” concludes Jono Gibbes. Where Racing 92 failed in the quarter-final of the Champions Cup against Bordeaux (24-21), this habit of managing close matches could indeed count. Answer this Friday evening.