Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard believes his Champions Cup opponents will be just as worried about facing his side as he is about taking them on.

The west Londoners will face familiar foes Bath when the competition rolls back around as well as French outfit Clermont and Ireland’s Ulster.

Bath and Ulster were both European champions in the late 90s while Clermont have been beaten finalists three times in the last seven years.

In contrast Harlequins have never made the final making it look like a tough pool for Gustard’s men from the outset.

The 43-year-old has tasted victory in the competition as a player however, winning back-to-back titles with Leicester Tigers from 2000-2002, and is adamant that Harlequins can be a force to be reckoned with next season. 

"We play three big teams but let’s not forget there are four teams in this group and that one of those is Harlequins and we are a good team too,” said Gustard.

“I would like to think that those three teams will look at us and know they are going to get a tough game against a continually improving side, with a lot of talent that are heading in the right direction.

“They will know that coming to a noisy Stoop with our fantastic fans in full song is a serious challenge and one to savour."

Clermont finished runners up behind Toulouse in both the Top14 table and the final last season and have proved they are more than comfortable mixing it with the best in Europe over the last few years.

Meanwhile Ulster bowed out at the semi-final stages in their PRO14 campaign having finished second in their pool behind eventual Champions Cup finalists Leinster.

And there was nothing to separate Bath and Harlequins at the end of the Premiership season with the two sides finishing on equal points, Gustard’s side taking home the bragging rights with a greater points difference.

"At the top table of European rugby you expect to play some great teams and experience some amazing venues and occasions, and the draw has not let us down,” he added.

"We play three very good teams who all pose different challenges that will test our resilience, our style and our tactical acumen.
"Clermont had a tremendous season last year winning the Challenge Cup and losing in the Top 14 final against a very good Toulouse team.

“Ulster at the Kingspan is a brilliant venue, with loud passionate partisan fans that support a much improved team who finished second in their Pro 14 conference last season. 

"And then we have our old friends and rivals Bath, former champions in 1998 and a side littered with internationals and history in this competition.”

Pool Three: ASM Clermont Auvergne, Ulster Rugby, Harlequins, Bath