Paul Gustard wants Harlequins to summon their gladiatorial spirit when they descend on one of the ‘most famous grounds in the game’ and begin their Champions Cup campaign against Munster.

Gustard’s side were unable to progress past the pool stages last season but come into the Sunday night clash off the back of two impressive wins in Premiership action.

Quins will do battle with the two-time Champions Cup winners at Limerick’s Thomond Park and Gustard is relishing the contest against a European heavyweight.

“As a club, we are really excited to start our European journey at one of the most famous grounds in the game, Thomond Park,” the 44-year-old said.

“Munster are a club that has consistently challenged in Europe and we fully respect the challenge they will offer us.

“They have a lot of international players returning from the Test arena, so we know they will be physical, well-organised, motivated and of course, we know what it means for them to play at home.

“For us, we come off the back of two decent performances and are in reasonable form. We are looking forward to putting our best foot forward this week and piecing together our best 80 minutes, which is what will be required in typically testing conditions.”

The Champions Cup adopts a different format this season owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, with two pools of 12 teams replacing last year’s five groups of four.

Quins failed to get through a pool of Ulster, Clermont and Bath last term but are now a team in red-hot form after domestic wins over Northampton Saints and Gloucester.

Gustard’s side ran in six tries to topple Saints 49-29 at the end of last month before five more touchdowns at Kingsholm propelled them to a pair of away victories.

Full-back Mike Brown will start on Sunday after being rested for last weekend’s win in the West Country, while England prop Joe Marler also returns after helping the Red Rose clinch the first Autumn Nations Cup trophy.

Sunday’s game represents Harlequins landmarks for both scrum-half Danny Care and powerhouse back-rower James Chisholm.

Gustard hailed his Quins lynchpins and knows experience will be crucial under the Thomond Park lights.

“It’s really pleasing to see James Chisholm make his 100th appearance for Harlequins,” he added.

“'Big Chis' is an academy graduate who has come through our pathway, so we are delighted as a Club to see him hit 100 games.

“Equally, we are pleased to see the talisman himself, Danny Care, make his 50th European appearance as we look to start strongly in this year's abbreviated competition."