France and Perpignan centre Maxime Mermoz has withdrawn from the national team to play New Zealand at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille on Saturday. The Catalan has been replaced in the squad by the three times Heineken Cup winner Cedric Heymans.
Mermoz, who helped Perpignan win the 2009 Top 14 championship title, sustained a thigh injury during the win over world champions South Africa and has returned to his club. However, the scan has revealed that the centre will be back in time to play in the Heineken Cup Round 3 tie against Munster at Thomond Park next month.
Heymans, who played for Toulouse last weekend in the Top 14 Orange against Castres Olympique, has been named on the bench for the match against the All Blacks.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.