John Mulvihill has emphasised the significance of the Heineken Champions Cup, as Europe's premier club competition makes a long-awaited return to the Welsh capital on Sunday.
Wales’ Capital Region will host Glasgow Warriors as they look to build on last week’s stunning victory over Lyon at Matmut Stadium de Gerland.
The Australian says the squad have highlighted the prestige of the competition, and a victory on Sunday would set up a huge double-header against Saracens in December
“We have to put everything into this week. It’s really important because if we can come away with the win, it sets up two big clashes against Saracens in December to decide who tops the pool,” said Mulvihill.
“Myself and Ellis Jenkins were over at the Aviva Stadium a few weeks ago for the launch. They spoke to the coaches and the players, and it hit me how big this tournament is.
“You watch the footage of teams who have won it in past years and look at the big teams around Europe who are in this competition. It was just exciting.
“I came away thinking that we have to be there every year, minimum, and that means a top three finish in the PRO14.
“We spoke this week as a squad about the significance of the competition and the great teams that have been involved in the competition.
“We had Rhys Gill, who has won the cup twice with Saracens, stand up and address the group on Monday to really hammer home how important this competition is for us and that we need do it justice.
“The level of intensity of training and on game day in Lyon has been at another level from where we’ve been so far this season.”
The Scottish outfit are currently joint leaders of the PRO14 in terms of tries scored, and have only lost one of their opening Championship games as they sit on top of Conference A.
However, they opened their European campaign with a 13-3 defeat to Saracens at Scotstoun last week.
Mulvihill expects an open and entertaining game of rugby and wants a repeat of last week’s special victory in the south of France.
The head coach said: “It’s going to be a really good game. Glasgow are going to be desperate after losing their home game last week to Sarries, and they weren’t far away in that game.
“They’re a team that won’t kick the ball a lot and they’ll move the ball from all parts of the field.
“They’ll come up against a team who do similar and it will come down to who has the best defence and that will to win on the day.
“It will be end-to-end stuff. It won’t be great for coaches watching, but I’m sure the crowd will love it!
“If we were to win this week, it would put them eight points behind. That’s basically Heineken Cup dreams over for the season.
“We know they’re going to be desperate but we’ve got this solely to focus on. We’ve put the PRO14 on the back burner for the moment. We can pick that up on Monday.
“We’re very proud of everyone who went out to Lyon last weekend, and has great support, with a lot of supporters travelling a long way to be there.
“We had board members there, a good support staff and players, and I was proud of everyone that we could give them a good day and say thank you for supporting us over the first part of the season.
“You could see the difference in physicality on the weekend. We had a fair few broken players on the plane on the way back.
“I thought after winning their first game in Europe for five years, in that tournament, that there would be celebration and excitement but it was like a triage unit. It was really quiet and quite eerie, actually.”
Cardiff Blues kicked off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with a stunning victory at Lyon, and will return to the Arms Park to take on Glasgow Warriors on Sunday.
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