sport

Cotter - We can cope

Clermont Auvergne have played down the loss of injured skipper Aurelien Rougerie ahead of Saturday's Heineken Cup last-four clash with Saracens.

Rougerie is suffering from the hamstring strain he sustained last Saturday during Clermont's surprise 22-6 defeat to Racing Metro and has been replaced by Benson Stanley at outside centre.

Clermont boss Vern Cotter has planned for his captain's absence and thinks his side will be able to cope.

"We knew after the match against Racing it was not looking good," Cotter said.

"We worked with the others this week knowing he may not play.

"It doesn't change much, you expect those things to happen - obviously someone else can come in, it changes things a bit but not too much."

Question mark

Rougerie will still travel with the squad to the match at Twickenham but it is flanker Julien Bonnaire who will wear the armband.

Saracens' director of rugby Mark McCall insists the question mark over Rougerie's fitness had not altered his side's preparations this week as they attempt to reach the final for the first time.

"He's obviously a world-class player and he's been a phenomenal leader for Clermont like Steve (Borthwick) has been for us down the years," McCall said.

"But if you look down their team sheet, there's vast experience so like a lot of top teams I think they can accommodate a loss like that.

"They've got Benson Stanley, who isn't too shabby, to take his place - it's a loss, I'm sure it is for them, but they've got a very experienced group."