PREVIEW | We'll go there and give it our best shot

Head Coach Richard Cockerill cannot wait to see his side test themselves at the highest level over the next fortnight as the capital side make their eagerly anticipated return to the Heineken Champions Cup.

His men are in Pool 5 alongside Montpellier, Newcastle Falcons and Toulon and although the Englishman does not necessarily feel his side can win the star-studded event, he believes the campaign will be great for the squad’s development.

The journey begins on Saturday (13 October, kick-off 4.15pm) with a trip to the GGL Stadium in Montpellier and then in Round 2 the team welcome Toulon to BT Murrayfield seven days later (Saturday 20 October, kick-off 3.15pm).

Having been not involved in this competition for the past four seasons there is sure to be a big crowd out in force at the national stadium for that second match, but for now all thoughts are on the away clash in France against the team coached by former Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter.

“It’s a very tough pool, but that’s good for us,” Cockerill said. “You’ve got to win all your home games and do something away from home.

“We’ve got to do our best, to go to Montpellier and play as well as we can and try to win. We’ve got Toulon next who aren’t having the best of seasons by their standards.

“Over in Montpellier we’re not going to force them into an arm wrestle because that’s going to make it tough for us. The ball in play [per match] stat in the Guinness PRO14 is over 40 minutes while in the French Top 14 it’s just over 30 minutes, so if we can keep lots of ball, get quick ball and put them under pressure, then we’ll create opportunities.

“If, however, we let them control the ball, give it away cheaply, kick the ball down the throats of their big men in wide channels then we’ll get punished.

“It’s going to be a huge test for us mentally and physically, especially for some of our young players who haven’t played at this intensity.”

The last two weeks have seen home victories in the Guinness PRO14 against Benetton Rugby and the Cheetahs - but Cockerill believes there is more to come from his team.

“Our form’s a little bit mixed,” he continued. ”We probably could have won at Ulster and didn’t, and that was our own fault. We’ve played reasonably well in general this term but have let teams back in it here.

“We’ve got to be ruthless about managing the game and the scoreboard and we’ve not done that well enough of late. That’s part of our development as a team and we’ve got to start learning that quicker.

“Our form has been getting there, but we’ve not played anyone near the quality of the team that we’re playing at the weekend.

“We’ll go and enjoy ourselves and play with a smile on our faces and give it our best shot.

“If we’re to win the next two weeks we have to play better than we’ve done the last 15 months.

“The trip to Montpellier is a ‘win win’ for us as a team. It’s important that we consistently compete in this competition because the way to develop is to play in these types of top level tournaments and do well.

“The lads are excited, hopefully we give things a real go and enjoy the experience.

“We also know that the fans are excited by this pool and we are expecting a good following against Toulon next week.”