French giants Montpellier are on the menu this Sunday for Newcastle Falcons as Heineken Champions Cup rugby returns to Kingston Park Stadium for the first time in 14 years.
Montpellier's star-studded squad are currently placed fourth in France's Top 14 and, in the season that the European finals are being held in Newcastle, their excitement levels are already on the rise ahead of Sunday's 1pm kick-off.
Their head coach Vern Cotter will be a name familiar to many following his time in charge of the Scottish national team, with other star names including South Africa's World Cup winner Bismarck du Plessis, All Black fly-half Aaron Cruden and France No 8 Louis Picamoles.
“The Champions Cup is an international competition where you play against teams you don’t face in your domestic league, so that’s interesting in itself," said Cotter, whose side opened up with a home tie against Edinburgh last weekend.
"The rules are different from the Top 14 as well, the game is quicker and there’s more playing time than in the Top 14, which demands more from our players. If you’re a competitor, you want to be able to play against the very best in Europe. All the more so when there’s the chance of winning a trophy at the end.”
On the prospect of coming to Newcastle, the city which will host the final on May 11, Cotter added: “The final is going to be special because this is a city that is used to hosting big teams and top-level sporting events, no doubt about that.
“Newcastle Falcons will be a bit different because they play on a synthetic surface, something we’re not all that used to - there aren’t many of them in the Top 14. So that’s something we’ll have to get used to. It’s not a team we know particularly well, either, but it’s always interesting to come up against teams that you don’t know.
"In terms of St James' Park, during my time with Scotland we played two matches there at Rugby World Cup 2015 against South Africa and Samoa. I have very good memories of the stadium and the city.
“As I said before, it’s a city that enjoys hosting big events and where the people know how to enjoy themselves. I think there’ll be a good atmosphere for the final, with a full house at that legendary stadium. But you need to get there first, and we’re just getting started.”
Tickets for Sunday's match between Newcastle Falcons and Montpellier are available by clicking here or calling 0871 226 6060.