O'Shea ready for mammoth clash
December 9, 2011
Harlequins are unbeaten in 14 matches since the start of the season © Getty Images
Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea is fully aware of the size of the task awaiting his unbeaten side when they entertain French giants Toulouse on Friday evening.
Quins will bid for their 15th successive victory in all competitions this season, having won 10 Aviva Premiership games, two European ties and two Anglo Welsh Cup fixtures. But Toulouse arrive at the Twickenham Stoop with an impeccable European pedigree after being crowned Heineken Cup winners four times and currently leading France's domestic Top 14 championship.
"They set the benchmark for European rugby," Quins rugby director O'Shea said. "It is why we want to be in the Heineken Cup to play against teams like Toulouse. We always talk about testing ourselves to see where we stand, and we are playing against the best side in Europe."
England number eight Nick Easter returns for Quins after he missed last weekend's Premiership victory over Wasps due to injury, with lock George Robson also back, while Benjamin Urdapilleta replaces centre Tom Casson, who suffered an ankle injury during training this week.
Quins' England wing Ugo Monye, who agreed fresh contract terms with the club earlier this week, believes the Amlin Challenge Cup holders are in fine shape as they prepare for their biggest game of a so-far memorable campaign.
"It has been fantastic to have been a witness to all the changes that have taken place at the club over the last 10 years," Monye said. "The Quins academy has produced a number of the current first team squad and, I am sure, many more England internationals in the future.
"Being at Harlequins is not all about the playing - it becomes a part of your life. We are a tight-knit bunch of lads who all love playing for each other. With so many English-qualified players within the squad, we all have a common goal - playing for Quins and our country."
Toulouse, conquerors of Quins in all three previous Heineken Cup meetings, parade recent signings Luke McAlister and Luke Burgess as their half-backs, while French World Cup stars Thierry Dusautoir, Maxime Medard and Vincent Clerc also start.
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