Greetings from Toulon where Leicester Tigers will be making a first appearance at the Stade Felix Mayol in the quarter-final of the Heineken Cup on Sunday.
I can’t wait for the game and the lads in the squad all feel the same way.
It’s not very often we go into games as big underdogs but we are this weekend against a Toulon squad full of stellar names from the world of rugby.
I don’t mind people writing us off. We are on a good run, played some superb rugby at Northampton last weekend and we are very keen to show how good we are the big occasion.
We will have to see what happens.
We have come over a day earlier than usual to get a feel of the place and just feel as comfortable as possible by the time game day arrives.
And before away matches, the boys in the squad have different ways of passing the time.
Line-out coach Richard Blaze always sends out texts on about Thursday telling everyone to bring a good film for the bus journey. Nearly everyone always forgets and we end up with some right rubbish on that everyone ignores.
While we are here, myself, Geoff Parling, Rob Hawkins, Julian Salvi and Ant Allen will play the odd social game of cards. Nothing too serious but a good laugh.
We are all going out for a team meal the night before the game here in Toulon but, usually, someone will plan a cinema trip.
I love going to the cinema –but not the night before a game. I just like that time on my own chilling out and perhaps watching the TV or a box set. I like to have my own space. I am not a nutcase head-butting walls or anything and I rarely think about the game itself, I just like to relax.
Even if I am at home, I tend to stay out of my girlfriend Jess’ way.
On the day of the game, we will have breakfast and then a stretch and walk through of a few line-out moves, have a pre-match meal and then get to the ground about 90 minutes or so before kick-off.
By then, everyone will have their game head on. Some people will have headphones on while others will just get focused. We don’t have music in the changing rooms at the Tigers though.
We never have had and I doubt anybody will ever challenge that ‘rule’.
That is one old school thing that will always be here I think.
The props and the front five always stay in the changing room until late for some reason. Dan Cole and the others are always last out for warm-ups. Don't ask me why.
And the youngest player on the bench always has to bring some sweets to the game like bags of Haribos or, my particular favourite at the minute, Fruit Pastilles.
And then it’s out there onto the pitch.
This weekend will be of those games that I will look back on at the end of my career and say: “I played in that”. These are the games that I will remember when I am older. What an occasion it promises to be.
This competition is superb and to be in a quarter-final in Toulon with a big away following behind us will be awesome.
I just hope we can deliver and surprise a few people.