Paul Gustard wants Harlequins to sharpen up in the attacking third as they open their European Challenge Cup campaign against Agen. 

Quins showed resilience despite a narrow defeat by Saracens last weekend, who are undefeated in the Premiership this season. 

Now the three-time Challenge Cup winners are hoping to reignite their love affair with the second-tier competition, starting tomorrow at the Stoop. 

Head of Rugby Gustard said: “We took pride in our performance last week and we have been pleased to see the improvements in our defence and scrum.

“Now we want to see our attack become more threatening and that is something we have focused on this week.

“The atmosphere at The Stoop last week was the best I have experienced at a club ground in five years and the noise that was reverberating around the ground helped drive the team forward.”

Agen sit second bottom in the French Top 14, with Gustard quietly confident his side can secure a maximum five points from the clash.

He said: “Agen have been one of the strongest clubs in France over the years which we respect but we have a rich history in the Challenge Cup and we want to do well in the competition by starting strongly.

“This is also an opportunity for us to build on recent performances and move the team and the Club forward.

“This is a squad that will never give up and is united in what it is trying to achieve, which I believe the supporters can recognise and relate to.”

Winger Gabriel Ibitoye will make his first start of the season for the south-west Londoners, having scored four tries in the Premiership this season.

Ibitoye will join a back line that includes Ben Tapuai as inside centre, and Joe Marchant, who scored the Premiership’s try of the week against Saracens last Saturday, at outside centre.

Fiji international flanker Semi Kunatani will also be making his first start for the club along with George Merrick and Charlie Mulchrone.

Alex Dombrandt will join the starting XV along with Francis Saili, who is returning from injury.

Gustard said: “Ibitoye has earned his place in the starting XV through his attitude to improve aspects of his game allied to some excellent performances this season.

“I am also looking forward to seeing the contribution Semi Kunatani will make on his first start for the club and I am delighted that Francis Saili makes the match 23 for the first time this season.

“His return is testament to his professionalism, positive attitude and the excellent work from our medical and strength conditioning team headed up by Gareth Tong and Andy Reynolds.

“I am also excited about the introduction of Alex Dombrandt who has impressed all in pre-season and makes his first appearance for the club he supported as a boy.”

Harlequins and Agen are joined in Challenge Cup Pool 5 by Benetton and Grenoble.