LONDON Irish coach Declan Danaher expects an 'unbelievable atmosphere' when Exiles travel to three-time European Cup champions Toulon next season.

Declan Kidney's men have been drawn in pool two of the European Challenge Cup with the super-powers, alongside fellow French side Bayonne and Welsh outfit Scarlets.

He commented: “It will be unbelievable and something the team will have to contend with as it will be very hostile. It will be a challenge for the players and one they will need to prepare for.”

“The French teams are going to get better in the coming years as their younger players coming through are starting to do very well, as has been proven by their U20s winning the World Rugby Championships for the second year in a row.”

Among his 275 appearances for Irish, Danaher played against both Bayonne and Scarlets and he added: “I played in the quarter-final against Bayonne at home and we won pretty well.

“To be honest I don’t really remember much about it. I remember the semi-final pretty well where we beat Newcastle to get to the final, and then the final was a tough one to take. We ended up losing to Gloucester in extra time, Luke Narraway scoring the winning try.”

Meanwhile Scarlets, under new guidance for this coming season, have been very good in Europe over the past few seasons and are a team Irish have had good tussles with in the past.

Danaher concluded: “They were in our pool back in 2009. We had two very evenly contested matches which we were unfortunately on the wrong side of.

“They have been very competitive over the last few years and are very dangerous team in attack, and I am in no doubt that they will want to put a marker down in this competition.”

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