“I think every coach will tell you that there is no easy group and certainly no easy game in the European Champions Cup. In one way, when you compare it to our pool last season, this group is probably as good as it gets in Europe, but at the same time that puts a lot more pressure on us.
“If you looked at our group last year, it was well recognised as the toughest pool out there, but that also meant there wasn’t much pressure on us because nobody expected us to get out of it. We did and we enjoyed a really successful run.
“Looking at the group this season, I hope people will give Connacht the respect they deserve as Pro 12 Champions, we certainly will. Zebre are improving and are a very difficult team to beat, particularly away from home. Toulouse are steeped in history and are one of the real powerhouses of European Rugby, as the side that has lifted the trophy a record number of times. I’m sure our Wasps fans will look forward to the four time European Champions and the Pro 12 Champions both coming to the Ricoh Arena, as well as to welcoming back a familiar face or two now playing at Zebre.
“It may certainly look like an easier group than last season on paper, but we’re not underestimating this, it’s a tough group and after last season there will be a more expectancy on us to do well.
“We probably exceeded expectations last season, we’ve got to address every game this season like we did last season, with a real fear factor when we knew that if we didn’t play our best rugby we could get beaten. Everyone has just got to concentrate on getting out of the group and once you’ve done that, you are into knockout rugby and anything can happen.
“I’m confident if we play our best rugby we can qualify from this group. We know it is going to be tough, but if we can perform like we did last season we should get out.”
The 2016/16 European Champions Cup pool draw
EPCR weekends - 2016/17 season
Round 1: 13/14/15/16 October
Round 2: 20/21/22/23 October
Round 3: 8/9/10/11 December
Round 4: 15/16/17/18 December
Round 5: 12/13/14/15 January 2017
Round 6: 19/20/21/22 January 2017
Quarter-finals: 30/31 March - 1/2 April 2017
Semi-finals: 21/22/23 April 2017
Finals Edinburgh 2017
European Rugby Champions Cup final: Saturday 13 May, BT Murrayfield Stadium