Heineken Cup: Scarlets ready for champions Leinster

Scarlets wing George North getting ready to hand off Leinster's Jonathan Sexton
Scarlets wing George North getting ready to hand off Leinster's Jonathan Sexton

Scarlets have welcomed the challenge of reigning champions Leinster in Pool Five of next season's Heineken Cup.

The Llanelli region will also have to face French giants Clermont Auvergne as well as Exeter Chiefs, who are making their debut in the tournament.

"We don't expect easy groups in Europe any more," said Scarlets team manager Garan Evans.

"So it's great really we have a team of the quality of Leinster as reigning European champions to play at home."

Scarlets have not progressed from the pool stages since the 2006-2007 season when they were losing semi-finalists.

The clash with Leinster will throw up a battle of brothers between Simon and Guy Easterby.

Simon has just taken over from Gloucester-bound Nigel Davies as Scarlets head coach, while Guy is Leinster's team manager.

"We are already looking forward to it [facing Leinster]," said Scarlets team manager Garan Evans.

"They are the benchmark really as far as standards and performances go in Europe over the last four or five years now.

Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy insisted he's "excited" about the region's Pool Two challenge, which includes four times European champions Toulouse and double Heineken Cup winners Leicester Tigers. They also face Benetton Treviso.

"There are six European titles between the teams in our group which says all you need to know," said Tandy, whio guided the region to the RaboDirect Pro12 title in May.

"I'm really excited about the challenge of going up against some of Europe's best teams.

"Toulouse are a great club and are always tough opponents. Leicester are familiar opponents for us."

New Cardiff Blues coach Phil Davies, who took Scarlets to the semi-finals in 2007, is also upbeat about the challenge in Pool Six where the region face Sale, Toulon and Montpellier.

"It's quite a tough draw - two French teams , which is exciting, and playing Sale. Lots of connections there - Dwayne Peel at Sale and Gethin [Jenkins] at Toulon," said Davies.

"It's exciting for the players. It's a tough one but it's an opportunity to play against some of Europe's best.

"It's a tough pool but we want to test ourselves and get out of the pool if we possibly can.

"If you get to the quarter-finals as I know from previous experiences - it's not easy - but when you get there it's one-off games."