Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Shane Logan is excited that the Champions Cup draw has given the province the opportunity to host reigning European champions Toulon in Belfast.
EUROPEAN RUGBY CHAMPIONS CUP - POOL 3:
Leicester Tigers ULSTER
Ulster were placed in Pool 3 of the new European Rugby Champions Cup during today's draw in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Standing between them and a spot in the knockout stages are Toulon and familiar foes Leicester Tigers and the Scarlets.
Ulster will be meeting Toulon for the first time, with the French giants having won the Heineken Cup for a second successive time last month with a 23-6 final defeat of Saracens.
The mouth-watering fixture at Kingspan Stadium will provide local fans with the opportunity to see some of the world's best players such as Matt Giteau, Bakkies Botha and European Player of the Year Steffon Amitage. Toulon have also recruited James O'Connor, Leigh Halfpenny and Mamuka Gorgodze for the 2014/15 campaign.
The Ulstermen have faced Leicester in two of the past three years in European competition, and will be hoping to repeat last season's results by registering both home and away wins.
Ulster Rugby Chief Executive Shane Logan described the draw as 'tough, achievable and very exciting', stating: "We knew it was going to be tough - with now only 20 teams in the competition it makes it harder all round. We want to play at the top level and we certainly will.
"I don't think we have anything to fear - I'm not underestimating the task but we're getting better at winning away from home in the big games. Last year we won away to Leicester and Montpellier."
Logan was particularly looking forward to welcoming Toulon to Belfast next season, dubbing it 'a magnificent fixture'.
"It's mouth-watering. We believe we have, perhaps, Europe's best stadium and we want to have Europe's best teams playing at it. That's the beauty of this competition and that's the beauty of what we're trying to create here in Ulster.
"Toulon have a team that is star-studded with some of the world's best players and I know they'll bring a big crowd over and I know that our crowd will more than rival them. It's great for Ulster Rugby and it will be a pleasure to welcome them to Kingspan Stadium."
The two other games will undoubtedly draw big crowds to the home of Ulster Rugby, especially given the familiarity between the sides and how competitive a pool it is likely to be.
"We're well used to playing Leicester, having met them in two of the past three seasons and interestingly, when we've had them in our pool we've managed to go through to the quarter-finals," noted Logan.
"I think we are the only team in Europe to have gone through to the last-eight in each of the last four years. It will be tough, enjoyable, but we'll do our best to make it five years in a row.
"You can't underestimate the Scarlets. They beat us well away from home last season although we beat them well in Belfast. It's always a tough battle - they play attractive rugby and have a fine coach in Simon Easterby."
Ireland international Iain Henderson will start at lock for Ulster for the first time this season, following his appearance in the back row last weekend. He will combine with fellow Ireland international Dan Tuohy in the second row
Connacht Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce the extended contract of Ireland international Kieran Marmion. The 23-year-old, who was first capped for Ireland in the summer of 2014, has put pen to paper on a new two-year contract with Connacht Rugby.