'Massive challenge' awaits Saracens in the Heineken Cup warns John Smit

 

South African star John Smit has braced Saracens for "a massive challenge" in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals against French heavyweights Clermont Auvergne.

Reigning Aviva Premiership champions Saracens are England's sole survivors in the competition after winning Pool Five courtesy of a 26-20 victory over Treviso in Italy.

They will now host Clermont during the opening weekend in April, with holders Leinster entertaining Cardiff Blues, Munster meeting Ulster in Limerick and Edinburgh facing four-time European champions Toulouse at Murrayfield.

"Clermont are a fantastic club with quality players throughout the squad," said Saracens hooker Smit, who spent a season at Clermont earlier in his career.

"It is going to be a massive challenge for us, but one which we cannot wait for.

"I know from my time there that they always want to do well in the Heineken Cup. But at Saracens, we are looking to create our own legacy with the squad of players we have."

Saracens' Vicarage Road home ground in Watford meets the 15,000 minimum quarter-final capacity demanded by Heineken Cup organisers, while they will also have home country advantage should they eliminate Clermont, facing Leinster or the Blues.

Edinburgh, the first Scottish team to secure a quarter-final home tie as a top-four seed since the competition began almost 17 years ago, can now look forward to greeting Toulouse after a bonus-point 34-11 win against London Irish denied the Blues top spot in Pool Two.

"Toulouse at home is much better than Toulouse away," Edinburgh coach Michael Bradley said.

"They can be stunning in attack, but if you do your work properly and you are clinical, you can put them under pressure.

"This is a huge step forward for Edinburgh rugby, first and foremost, and to the players here who made a commitment to each other in September when we set out some objectives and how we wanted to play the game.

"We made a commitment to areas we haven't been good at in the past, and we have had some brilliant games here at Murrayfield against Racing Metro and the Cardiff Blues.

"The boys have achieved what they set out to do so far, and it's great for Edinburgh rugby. I thought we played well and controlled the game against London Irish."

The Blues, meanwhile, are Wales' sole survivors, progressing as best runner-up after Edinburgh claimed their all-important fourth try just two minutes from time.

The winners of the tie between Edinburgh and Toulouse tie will be away to Munster or Ulster in the semi-finals, a game seemingly destined for Dublin's Aviva Stadium.

And in the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, Wasps will host Biarritz, Exeter travel to meet Stade Francais, Brive host the Scarlets and Toulon entertain Premiership leaders Harlequins.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project