Bet: Grenoble +15.5
First day of TOP 14.
Last season, La Rochelle failed again in their attempt to reach the finals of the Top 14 by finishing in 7th place. This summer, they lost their emblematic coach Patrick Collazo. Captain Jason Eaton retired while Brock James and Afa Amosa joined Bordeaux. In the arrivals section, they signed Ihai West and Lopeti Timani. Arthur Joly (Agen), Marc Andreu (Racing 92) and Sila Puafisi (Brive) have also joined the club with many Pro D2 players (Maloir, Bourdeau, Lafage, Plessis-Couillaud).
For this first game, the coaches decided to place Jeremy Sinzelle at the opening, which had not really worked last season. Plessis-Couillaud and Bourdeau begin. The bench looks very light with many youngsters. Many players are absent like Atonio, Forbes, Qovu, Botia, Jordaan, Murimurivalu, West, Kerr Barlow, Lacroix, Gourdon, Doumayrou, …
After losing in the accession final against Perpignan, Grenoble won the play-off against Oyonnax to qualify for the TOP 14. The FCG has retained all its key players and has strengthened very well. The major recruits are Davit Kubriashvili (Montpellier), Halani Aulika (Sale), Jakobus Christo JANSE VAN RENSBURG (Stormers), Clément Ancely (Massy), Mike Tadjer (Brive), Taleta Tupuola (Montauban), Steeve Blanc-Mappaz (Vannes), Gaëtan Germain (Brive), Junior Rasoela (Edinburgh), Ben Lucas (Reds). But Grenoble’s recruitment star is, without a doubt, South African international Raymond Rhule. This winger was U20 World Champion and has 7 appearances with the Springboks. The FCG has some absent like Gaëtan Germain, Adrien Latorre, Junior Rasolea, Fabien Alexandre and Steeve Blanc-Mappaz. But, the starting XV is solid. The front row scares me a bit but the rest is very strong! The bench is of high quality and certainly superior to that of its opponent.
I find the handicap very high given the context. I don’t see Grenoble losing so widely.. Right handicap: +12.5