Exeter v Toulouse (Sat)
Sam Skinner
Skinner missed out on Scotland’s Rugby World Cup campaign after suffering a hamstring injury
Date: Saturday 26 September Kick-off: 15:30 BST Venue: Sandy Park
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio Devon and BBC Sport website with live text

Scotland international Sam Skinner replaces flanker Jacques Vermeulen in the Exeter team to face Toulouse in the club’s first Champions Cup semi-final.

Vermeulen and fellow South African Jannes Kirsten are out of the matchday squad entirely, with Dave Dennis and Don Armand among the replacements.

Stuart Hogg, Jack Nowell and Henry Slade are in an exciting backline.

Toulouse’s star-studded XV includes South Africa wing Cheslin Kolbe and French scrum-half Antoine Dupont.

The French side make one change to the starting line-up that sailed past Ulster in the quarter-finals with Julien Marchand replacing Peato Mauvaka at hooker.

Thirty-seven-year-old Jerome Kaino, a veteran of 81 Tests and two World Cup wins for New Zealand, captains the side from flanker.

Toulouse have won all seven matches in this season’s competition and have an illustrious history in the tournament with four titles.

It will be their first meeting with Exeter, who have won seven out of eight matches since their season restarted in August in the wake of coronavirus restrictions.

The winners of the match will face either Saracens or Racing 92 in a final which will be played on the weekend of 17-18 October at a yet-to-be-announced venue.

Exeter Chiefs: Hogg; Nowell, Slade, Whitten, O’Flaherty; J Simmonds (capt), Maunder; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Williams, Gray, Hill, Ewers, Skinner, S Simmonds.

Replacements: Yeandle, Moon, Francis, Dennis, Armand, Hidalgo-Clyne, Steenson, Devoto.

Toulouse: Ramos; Huget, Guitoune, Ahki, Kolbe; Ntamack, Dupont; Baille, Marchand, Faumuina, Arnold, Tekori, Kaino (capt), Cros, Tolofua.

Replacements: Mauvaka, Neti, Aldegheri, Placines, Madaule, Holmes, Bales, Lebel.

‘This is the kind of challenge we’ve been waiting for’ – what they say

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter: “I think this is the kind of challenge we’ve been waiting for. That’s no disrespect to anybody else, but the players came back in great physical condition from lockdown and ready to go.

“The key thing this week is that we don’t get too excited about the game too quickly. For a game like this, you have to expend a huge amount of emotional energy, but not in the build-up.”

Toulouse head coach Ugo Mola: “We understand that teams who dominate Europe don’t do it spontaneously. Rather, they are constructed over years and cycles. So, for this squad, who are still very young, to reach another semi is really satisfying.”

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