Two-time European champion and World Cup winner Bryan Habana will be part of Channel 4’s coverage of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and the former Toulon wing has picked out 10 players you should keep your eye out for during the competition.
Channel 4’s coverage of Europe’s elite club tournament gets under way on Saturday, with two former champions facing each other in Bath Rugby and Toulouse at the Recreation Ground from 12:30 (BST).
Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby)
“6ft 4ins, 17st 9lbs and deceptively quick. Bath will be looking to Joe to continue his good run of form and one hopes that he is utilised properly by them this season.”
Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)
“What Cheslin possibly lacks in size, he makes up for with the excitement that he brings. His recent Springbok call-up, after a string of fantastic performances for Toulouse, was just reward after years of knocking on the door. He played a key role, with a superb solo try against the run of play, in the historic win against the All Blacks in Wellington recently. Insanely quick, a wicked step, an astute kicking game and willing to put his body on the line no matter what.”
Conor Murray (Munster Rugby)
“Conor has been the leading scrum-half internationally over the past few years. His tactical kicking is pinpoint accurate. His ability to mix it up physically, both in attack and defence, gives Munster an extra dimension and he will be looking to spearhead their road to the top of European rugby. The timeline on his comeback from injury will be critical to Munster’s hopes.”
You can watch Munster Rugby v Gloucester Rugby on Saturday, October 20 at 12:30 (BST) live on Channel 4.
Danny Cipriani (Gloucester Rugby)
“Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Danny Cipriani has oodles of X-factor. He will be looking to fight his way back into the England set-up after recently being excluded by Eddie Jones.”
It’s tough being tough!!! Pretty amped about @ChampionsCup starting again this weekend!!
Catch me on @C4Sport with @LeeMcKenzieTV and @jamieheaslip covering the @bathrugby vs @StadeToulousain this Saturday. pic.twitter.com/c3cLaYgxNL
— Bryan Habana (@BryanHabana) October 9, 2018
Owen Farrell (Saracens)
“Owen has played an integral role in a lot of Saracens’ success over the past few years. He has the ability to control games tactically. His defensive astuteness in leading the Saracens rush defence and leadership will be key as Saracens look to rekindle their dominance of the Heineken Champions Cup.”
CJ Stander (Munster Rugby)
“The formidable flanker has been producing world-class performances for club and country for a number of years now. His combination with Conor Murray, from a communication and leadership point of view, is something that coach Johann van Graan will be hoping produces the goods for Munster this season.”
Nemani Nadolo (Montpellier)
“The big Fijian, after a three-month injury lay-off, has come storming back into the fold with a string of powerful, try-scoring appearances for Montpellier. His ability to not only score tries, but draw in defenders and make tries for other players is going to make him a force to be reckoned with in this year’s competition.”
Maro Itoje (Saracens)
“The powerful second rower, who is still only just 23 years old but seems to have been around for ages, has been one of the best players globally for the past few years. He will be looking to cement that status again this year. Extremely comfortable fitting into the loose trio if need be by Sarries. His ability to carry ball, dominate lineouts and be a constant threat around the ruck in defence makes him a key man if Saracens want to again get their hands on the trophy.”
Lima Sopoaga (Wasps)
“The All Black gave up the chance to go to the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year so that he can test himself against the best in the Northern Hemisphere. His success with the Highlanders as well as the experience that he brings with him will make him a pivotal player for Wasps this season.”
Johnny Sexton (Leinster Rugby)
“Johnny Sexton goes into this year’s competition as the man Leinster will be looking at to lead their continued stronghold of European rugby after a sensational 2017/2018 season, where Leinster won the double.”
Channel 4 will be providing free-to-air coverage of one match from each round of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, including one quarter-final, a semi-final and the final in Newcastle next May.