Lock Alan O’Connor relishes the big European clashes and for Ulster’s hopes of emerging from the group this season Exeter at home on Saturday has become a huge game.
Both sides go into the Kingspan clash without a point after the first round of matches and defeat for either would surly end any hopes of reaching the knock out stages.
Eight of O’Connor’s 30 appearance for Ulster have come in European competition.
“It’s a special feeling running out here and a special feeling going away to France and playing big European games.
“ It is something you’re very proud off and you just hope you can bring the goods on the day,” said O’Connor.
“The European standard is top of the table, if you are playing against any good team and you are not firing on all cylinders you’re not going to win the match,” said O’Connor.
“Between the English and French teams they are so competitive just like the Pro12.
“In the Pro12 last year it was so tight between eight teams so every team we play are top standard.
“If you’re not firing at the right time or the right places you’re going to get punished.”
Ulster led 10-3 in Bordeaux last Sunday but a capitulation in the last six minutes allowed the French side to score three tries and Les Kiss men left the Stade Jacques Chaban-Delmas emptied handed.
“We just needed to hold onto the ball and play in the more efficient areas of the pitch and exit better.
“We just needed to weather the storm but we kept putting pressure back on ourselves so hopefully this week we’ll nail a lot of stuff we can control.
“We were pounding their line and had some good play in the green zone and we just didn’t capitalise on those opportunities but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.
“We just need to play in the right areas, we need to be smarter in the way we make it up the pitch.
“We let them into the game and their crowd get into the game through mistakes and not smart enough play.”
Exeter pride themselves on their pack power and O’Connor could come face to face with British Lions lock Geoff Parling.
“He’s experienced, he’s been around the block about three times so hopefully we can do a job on him and hopefully stop him playing and hopefully that stops the pack playing.
“Exeter like their maul and they bring tempo to their play and you just have to stop that and stem it at source.
“They have a couple of good backs as well so they like keeping width to their play so we have to deal with that as well. But we are looking forward to it.”
Ulster v Exeter - Kingspan Stadium, Saturday, 7,45pm - tickets still available