Marius Goosen is Benetton Treviso’s record points scorer – but now the former outside half is hoping to make his point as the assistant coach of the Italian club embarking on their 14th season in the Heineken Cup.
Goosen scored 227 tournament points in 34 appearances, starting all six of last season’s Pool matches before hanging up his boots and joining head coach Franco Smith on the coaching staff.
“We always look forward to playing in the Heineken Cup, it is a good chance for us to play and test ourselves against the best,” he said.
“The Heineken Cup is always the highest level and we are going to have to be at our best. We are in a strong group, starting with Leicester Tigers, who have the won the competition a couple of times, so we know the challenges ahead.
“We have had some good crowds and good atmosphere at home in the league so the aim is to replicate that for the Leicester match.
“Hopefully we will benefit from playing in the Celtic League and, although it is still early days, we want to carry the intensity and experience from that to give us a good chance.”
While Benetton Treviso are Heineken Cup stalwarts – the clash with the 2001 and 2002 champions will be their 73 match – fellow Italian franchise Aironi Rugby will be taking their bow when they travel to Ravenhill to play 1999 champions Ulster Rugby.
The Viadana-based side also entered the Celtic League for the first time this season and are targeting their trip to Ireland to get their European campaign off to the best of starts.
“We have got Ulster first up and we know them pretty well already,” said captain Quintin Geldenhuys.
“We played them in the league and just lost out by seven points but they scored an interception and before that we were right in the game.
“It is a game we have targeted and, as it is our first in the Heineken Cup, it is very important to us. We know that they will come at us strong and they will be looking for a good win at home, but hopefully we can show them what we can do.”
“The season is very long and the intensity is going to take its toll. We have had three hard games on the road, so we are being careful and resting our squad well.
“Our squad is small and we need to look after all of our guys and target games we believe we can get something from and focus on those.
“We have got about 11 players out injured but we are looking to get some of those back in time for Europe and that will increase competition for places, which is really healthy.
“When you’re used to playing in the Super 10, the Italian domestic league, and then have to step up into Europe like Italian teams have done in the past, it is a culture shock.
“It takes time to adapt your game and be ready for the difference in levels, but playing at a similar pace in the Celtic League means we can try and maintain our performances and take them into the Heineken Cup.
“As always, we are going to take the competition game by game, but this year we know we will have more experience.
“It is vital to start well so we need to target the opening rounds and try and get a win in early.”