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NZers mostly shut out at Champions Cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/04/2017
Fritz Lee of ASM Clermont Auvergne is tackled by Ollie Devoto of Exeter Chiefs during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Exeter Chiefs and ASM Clermont Auvergne at Sandy Park on October 16, 2016 in Exeter, United Kingdom. © Harry Trump/Getty Images Fritz Lee of ASM Clermont Auvergne is tackled by Ollie Devoto of Exeter Chiefs during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Exeter Chiefs and ASM Clermont Auvergne at Sandy Park on October 16, 2016 in Exeter, United Kingdom.

New Zealand players and coaches are in thin supply heading into the semi-finals of Europe's elite club competition.

While the Kiwi influence in Europe is undeniable, the four remaining teams in the Champions Cup buck the trend.

Irish outfits Leinster and Munster, French club Clermont Auvergne and defending champions Saracans of England don't feature a single New Zealander on their coaching staff.

And of the limited Kiwi players involved in quarter-final wins over the weekend, none have played for the All Blacks.

Former Chiefs No.8 Fritz Lee was in the Clermont Auvergne side who toppled French rivals and former champions Toulon.

New Zealander Sean Maitland, who is a Scottish international winger, was in Saracens' starting team for their 38-13 thrashing of Glasgow Warriors.

Winger Isa Nacewa and lock Hayden Triggs started for Leinster in their 32-17 defeat of Wasps while Munster featured starting first five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal and reserve hooker Rhys Marshall played roles in their 41-16 quelling of Toulouse.

Meanwhile, former All Blacks centre Conrad Smith reportedly suffered another major blow in a forgettable season at French club Pau.

In his first game back after a four-month break following ankle surgery, Smith suffered a broken cheekbone in the Top 14 match against leaders La Rochelle.

Smith, 35, recently signed a one-year contract extension with Pau.

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