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Ouedraogo injury aids Irish hopes

MONTPELLIER have been rocked by the news that their captain Fulgence Ouedraogo has been ruled out of their Heineken Cup clash with Toulon at the weekend, writes Conor George.

The international flanker sprained his ankle in training on Monday and is expected to be out of action for at least a fortnight, making him a doubt for France's opening Six Nations game against Italy.

This development is of huge interest to both Leinster and Munster because the injury means he will definitely miss Saturday's Pool 6 decider at home against Toulon, where a draw should be enough for Montpellier to qualify for the quarter-finals.

If Montpellier lose without a bonus point and finish their campaign on 18 points, there is a chance both Munster and Leinster could qualify for the quarter-finals.

Leinster still remain behind the eight ball in terms of qualification despite collecting all five available points last Saturday.

That winning alone probably won't be enough sums up Leinster's whirlwind and disjointed campaign.

After all, Eoin Reddan can remember 2009 when his then Wasps side were chasing a bonus point in their final game with all their might, only to lose in Castres when a win may well have earnt a quarter-final slot.

Reddan added: "One of our main rivals are Montpellier and they will have played already so that will help us a little bit in terms of knowing what we have to do.

"But unfortunately the way the weekend is set up, with Munster knowing exactly what they have to do on Sunday, we really have to get the win first. There's no such thing as piling on tries against Exeter."

Elwood: We deserve spot

Outgoing Connacht boss Eric Elwood has defended the province's performances in the Heineken Cup and dismissed suggestions that the Westerners were out of their depth.

Connacht suffered their heaviest defeat since Elwood took charge two and a half years ago when they went down 47-8 to Harlequins on Saturday, prompting renewed comments that they had not earned the right to be there.

"I do take exception when people say we haven't earned the right or that we don't deserve to be in it. We were very competitive last year in a tough pool with Quins, Toulouse and Gloucester," said Elwood.