Alun Wyn Jones Champions Cup pool-by-pool guide: How the provinces fare ahead of big kick-off

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Head coach:Kieran Crowley.

Last season:Didn’t qualify.

Key player:Braam Steyn (flanker).

One to watch:Ian Keatley (out-half)

Form guide:LWWLL

Prospects:Benetton haven’t won a Champions Cup game since January 2015 and as much as they have improved since then, they are unlikely to have much joy in a tough pool.


Head coach:Leo Cullen.

Last season: Beaten finalists.

Key player:James Ryan (lock).

One to watch:Ronan Kelleher (hooker).

Form guide:WWWWW

Prospects:It’s hard to see anything other than Leinster emerging as pool winners and contending for a record fifth title.

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Head coach:Pierre Mignoni.

Last season:Pool exit.

Key player:Charlie Ngatai (centre).

One to watch:Demba Bamba (prop).

Form guide:WLWWW

Prospects:Lyon failed to win a single game in what was their first appearance in the tournament last year, but if their Top 14 table-topping early season form is anything to go by, they will fare much better this time around.


Head coach:Chris Boyd.

Last season:Didn’t qualify.

Key player:Dan Biggar (out-half).

One to watch:Cobus Reinach (scrum-half)

Form guide: LWWW

Prospects:Northampton have quietly assembled a squad with a lot of potential and after starting the Premiership season well, they will be looking to carry that momentum into Europe.

Alun Wyn Jones Pool 2

Exeter Chiefs

Head coach:Rob Baxter.

Last season: Pool exit.

Key player:Henry Slade (centre).

One to watch:Stuart Hogg (full-back).

Form guide:LWWL

Prospects: Coming into last year’s tournament as many people’s dark-horses, Exeter flattered to deceive but look much better placed to emerge from this pool.

Glasgow Warriors

Head coach: Dave Rennie.

Last season:Quarter-finals.

Key player:Jonny Gray (lock).

One to watch:Adam Hastings (out-half).

Form guide:WWLWL

Prospects:The perennial disappointments in Europe, Glasgow will have their work cut out to rid themselves of that unwanted tag.

La Rochelle

Head coach:Ronan O’Gara.

Last season:Didn’t qualify.

Key player:Victor Vito (No 8).

One to watch: Arthur Retiere (full-back).

Form guide:LWWLL

Prospects:It remains to be se

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