I love playing in atmospheres like the one we will be in this weekend.
Taking on Toulouse away from home in the Heineken Cup is about as big as it gets in club rugby.
And when you go to places like that, Perpignan or Clermont you can expect a rough ride from the home crowd.
They like their rugby in places like that and they certainly let you know you are the visitors when you run out. Even going out for the warm-out gets you a round of boos and jeers.
It’s more of a football-type crowd than your traditional rugby crowd and it reminds me of a Milan football derby with constant and really loud noise all of the time.
They are great atmospheres to play in though and create days you remember for a long while.
Toulouse are used to winning and their fans donÂ’t like losing, one bit. Hopefully, we can encourage the crowd to get on their own team’s back instead of ours.
The first game in the competition is always tough to call.
We have seen plenty of Toulouse playing in France on tape but we have two different styles as clubs, so it is difficult to gage who is playing better or on better form.
It’s going to be difficult for them because we all know that you have to win your home games in the Heineken Cup if you have any hope of making the quarter-finals.
If we can and come away from the game with something to show for our efforts, it will be a cracking start for us.
From what we have seen so far, Toulouse seem to play quite loose rugby with little structure to their game and they like to throw the ball around a lot. Sometimes, it comes off, and sometimes it doesn’t.
I think it will come down to who can enforce their game plan on the other side the best. It’s going to be tight so it will be down to who puts the ball in the right areas and who controls the game.
All big games tend to be decided like that.
Away from home, we need to be in their half as much as we can, silencing the crowd making big first-up tackles.
We ca’t be going backwards letting them pick up 10 metres here and there else it is going to be a long and difficult afternoon.
Whatever happens, it is going to be a pretty tasty game!