Connacht stalwart John Muldoon, who has played 222 times for his home province including over 50 European appearances, says fans can expect some 'great games' in the inaugural European Rugby Challenge Cup.
EUROPEAN RUGBY CHALLENGE CUP - POOL 2:
Connacht will play in the European Rugby Challenge Cup next season and John Muldoon is looking forward to trips to France to meet Bayonne and newly-promoted La Rochelle, as well as to England to tackle Exeter Chiefs.
"After three seasons of dining out at the top table of European Cup rugby we now have to play in the Challenge Cup," said Muldoon. "But we've got a tough draw and face some great games.
"I love the challenge of playing in France and last season we went to Toulouse and won. That was a special day for Connacht rugby and now we have the chance to do that again.
"We've been to Bayonne before and won, but we haven't played Exeter Chiefs in a competitive game to my knowledge. We had a friendly against them a few seasons ago, but they have simply got better and better since they gained promotion (to the Aviva Premiership).
"They've been in the Heineken Cup in the last few seasons and had to play against some of Europe's biggest clubs. They will be a massive test for us."
The westerners played Bayonne in the pool stages of the 2010/11 Challenge Cup, securing a 16-13 victory at the Sportsground before upsetting the French side at Stade Jean Dauger - late tries from Brian Tuohy and Fionn Carr sealed a 35-21 win.
Connacht have lined out against Exeter in two previous pre-season friendlies. Chiefs' former Ireland Under-21 out-half Gareth Steenson scored 25 points as the English side won 47-10 at Dubarry Park in August 2011.
The following year saw the province gain revenge with a 8-6 victory at Sandy Park, set up by Fetu'u Vainikolo's lone try.
The 2014/15 European Rugby Challenge Cup will get underway in mid-October with six rounds of matches across the five pools up to January 22-25, 2015.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's clash with Australia, Ireland flanker Rhys Ruddock said: "We need to bring the defensive physicality we had against South Africa, as Australia have threats all over the park. We need to be at the top of our game."
As the countdown continues to Ireland's GUINNESS Series showdown with Australia, number 8 Jamie Heaslip talks about the Georgia game and what it will be like to face an 'old friend' in Michael Cheika this Saturday.
Behind the scenes with the Three Tunnel Cam at the Aviva Stadium for the Ireland v South Africa clash in the 2014 GUINNESS Series. Ireland ran out 29-15 winners with Jonathan Sexton winning the man-of-the-match award.