Magners League leaders Ulster welcom Guy Noves' Toulouse side to Ravenhill this afternoon for a mouth-watering start to their Heineken Cup run.
HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 5: Saturday, October 21
ULSTER v TOULOUSE, Ravenhill, 1.35pm
Ulster: Bryn Cunningham; Tommy Bowe, Paul Steinmetz, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble; David Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, Bryan Young, Justin Harrison (capt), Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Stephen Ferris, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Paul Shields, Simon Best, Tim Barker, Kieron Dawson, Kieran Campbell, Kevin Maggs, Andrew Maxwell.
Toulouse: Clement Poitrenaud; Vincent Clerc, Yannick Jauzion, Florian Fritz, Cedric Heymans; Jean-Frederic Dubois, Valentin Courrent; Omar Hasan, Yannick Bru, Salvatore Perugini, Trevor Brennan, Patricio Albacete, Gregory Lamboley, Thierry Dusautoir, Fabien Pelous (capt).
Replacements (from): Daan Human, Stephane Clement, Virgil Lacombe, Romain Millo-Chlusky, Jean Bouilhou, Jean-Francois Montauriol, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, Gareth Thomas, Xavier Garbajosa.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Touch Judges: Martin Fox, Paul Dix (both England)
Coach Speak: Mark McCall (Ulster) - "Where we have developed as a squad is that we are not reliant on outside motivation, we are not reliant on somebody saying something magical an hour before the kick-off.
"We know we have prepared well for the game, we know we have got a good squad with good systems and we have just got to deliver now."
Guy Noves (Toulouse) - "We are looking for a bit of revenge after our defeat at home to Leinster last year, but it is our performance as a starting point for our campaign which is much more important.
"Everyone knows that there are certain games you are not expected to win in this tournament and away to Ulster is definitely one of them.
"They know what it's like to be European champions and I know they'll be looking to go as far as they can in this year's tournament."
...Ulster and Ireland winger Andrew Trimble...
PREVIOUS EUROPEAN MEETINGS:
September 1998 - HEC Pool C: Toulouse 39 Ulster 3, Les Sept Deniers
October 1998 - HEC Pool C: Ulster 29 Toulouse 24, Ravenhill
December 1998 - HEC Quarter-Final: Ulster 15 Toulouse 13, Ravenhill
October 2000 - HEC Pool 3: Toulouse 35 Ulster 35, Stade Municipal
October 2000 - HEC Pool 3: Ulster 25 Toulouse 29, Ravenhill
HEINEKEN CUP HISTORY:
Ulster - 05/06: Pool 4; 04/05: Pool 6; 03/04: Pool 1; 02/03: Pool 6; 01/02: Pool 2; 00/01: Pool 3; 99/00: Pool 3; 98/99: Champions; 97/98: Pool B; 96/97: Pool C; 95/96: Pool B
Toulouse - 05/06: Quarter-finals; 04/05: Champions; 03/04: Runners-up; 02/03: Champions; 01/02: Pool 6; 00/01: Pool 3; 99/00: Semi-finals; 98/99: Quarter-finals; 97/98: Semi-finals; 96/97: Semi-finals; 95/96: Champions
2006/07 FORM: Ulster (Sept 2-Oct 14) - WWLWLWW
Toulouse (Aug 19-Oct 14) - WWWWLLDWLWW
- This is Ulster's sixth meeting with Toulouse in the Heineken Cup since 1998 - the French giants have two wins, Ulster two and there was a 35-35 draw at Stade Municipal in 2000
- Three-time Heineken Cup champions Toulouse have only lost twice in their last 12 fixtures on the road
- Ulster out-half David Humphreys is making his 52nd appearance in the Heineken Cup today. The former Ireland number 10 has tallied up 502 points in the competition so far.
The 36-year-old, who has been in the wars of late, notably being spear-tackled by Connacht's Ted Robinson, said: "I don't know whether it's because I'm getting a bit old and a bit slow - I've just been in the wrong place at the wrong time but it's part and parcel of the game.
"I am not saying I enjoy being at the receiving end of it but the bumps and bruises never seem to hurt as much as when you win."
- Ulster forwards coach Allen Clarke was part of the Ulster side that beat Toulouse in the 1998/99 Heineken Cup quarter-finals on the way to the province's historic title win that season. The former Ireland hooker recalled: "It's uncanny how we get paired with Toulouse over the years. Obviously every time Toulouse comes out of the hat with Ulster in the same pool you think of that year.
"It would be nice if we could replicate that performance at Ravenhill and get the points this weekend."
Reflecting on that quarter-final win, he added: "Toulouse in their own back yard were extremely dangerous and maybe we stood off them a little in the pool game and if you stand off a team with that quality, they will cause you problems.
"We had them a couple of weeks later at Ravenhill and on that day we got into them, took the challenge to them and took away their space from a defensive perspective. That (win) gave us tremendous momentum and belief as a squad and we kicked on from there."
- Toulouse boast 26 full internationals in their current 38-man squad, including the Ireland-capped lock/back row Trevor Brennan