Racing 92 hooker Camille Chat. Julien Poupart/INPHO
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Leinster without 'dinosaur' Sexton but Racing set for huge test

The French side hope to bring their high-speed game to bear in Le Havre.

LEINSTER MIGHT BE without captain and talisman Johnny Sexton this weekend in France but Racing 92 are preparing themselves for a European clash of the highest quality in Le Havre.

The Parisian club moved the fixture to the northern port city on account of their own La Défense Arena being booked out for a concert.

Two-time Europen finalists Racing, who are currently second in the Top 14, expect a massive test of their ability from Leinster on Saturday.

“We are very excited about this, we know Leinster are a big name of European rugby,” said Racing hooker Camille Chat.

“It will be exciting for the future if we can get through these two big challenges.”

It is a shame that there may not be a reunion for Sexton against his former club. The 37-year-old spent two seasons with Racing before returning to Leinster in 2015.

Chat remembers training with Sexton during the Irishman’s spell in Paris and says he’s not shocked to see him still performing at the top level.

“Yes, he’s a dinosaur!” said Chat with a laugh.

“I’m not really surprised because I know he’s a big leader and the chief orchestrator.”

Sexton looks set to miss out due to a calf injury but Chat points out that “there’s plenty of other players around” that Racing need to worry about. Ross Byrne looks likely to start at number 10 for Leinster.

camille-chat Chat says Racing want to play at speed against Leinster. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Chat and his team-mates will be playing against their future boss this weekend, with Stuart Lancaster due to join the French club as their new head coach next summer.

“We look forward to welcoming him, but for now it’s important to finish this chapter as well as we can with Laurent Travers and the staff and players we have now,” said Chat.

“We want to show Leinster and Stuart Lancaster that we’re a good side, that he took the right decision to come to France and hopefully lift trophies.”

Around 15,000 tickets have been sold for the game at Stade Océane in Le Havre, where Racing played a Top 14 game back in 2015.

Chat says it’s “a developing region” for rugby in France, where the excitement continues to grow ahead of next year’s home World Cup.

The 26-year-old will hope to work his way back into the national team mix before then, but his focus this weekend is on Leinster.

Racing plan to make the Irish province uncomfortable with their rapid style of play.

“We play with speed and while our squad has changed a little bit we still want to bring that speed and physicality to the game,” said Chat.

“Especially with the young guys that we have, a focus on French players, it’s good. Hopefully all the fans around the world and the Irish fans will enjoy the way we play.”

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Originally published at 06.15

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