Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea welcomes Heineken Cup challenge

Last Updated: 12/10/13 1:09pm

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Tony O'Shea and coach John Kingston: Hoping to overcome a slow start to season

Tony O'Shea and coach John Kingston: Hoping to overcome a slow start to season

Sky Bet

Harlequins rugby director Conor O'Shea insists the Heineken Cup has come "at a great time" despite their tough start to the season.

The defeat to London Irish last weekend was the second straight reverse for Quins, and O'Shea is looking forward to a change of competition this week.

Quins host Scarlets in their Pool Four opener on Saturday, and O'Shea has urged his players to step up after starting the season "way too slowly".

"We've had a difficult couple of weeks," O'Shea said. "We've lost the last two matches, so the Heineken Cup has come at a great time for us.

"There is a freshness of the Heineken Cup, playing against teams you know well but don't know intimately. To play Scarlets and then have a trip to Clermont next week will be nice, so there is a real buzz about the group.

"We feel that as a group we have started the season way too slowly, and we want to put that right this weekend."

Northampton and Gloucester are also in action on Saturday, with Saints heading to French champions Castres in Pool One and Gloucester hoping to bounce back from their defeat to Exeter when they face Perpignan in Pool Six.

Leicester face a daunting trip to Ulster tonight, while Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens travel to Galway to take on Connacht.

"We have got to be right mentally and physically. Connacht really step it up in this competition - I know that from my experiences in Ireland," Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said.

Live Heineken Cup coverage of Ulster's clash with Leicester starts at 7pm tonight on Sky Sports 1, with Connacht v Saracens available via the red button

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