AFTER two seasons playing in the Amlin Challenge Cup, USAP Perpignan are back playing in Europe’s premier club rugby competition.
Perpignan have a proud history of competing in the Heineken Cup, reaching the final in 2003 when they lost to Toulouse at Lansdowne Road and making it through to the semi-final stage in 1999 and again in 2011 before losing to Northampton.
They boast a large number of UK-born players in their squad, who have an affinity with the Heineken Cup.
While their former Munster centre Lifeimi Mafi is suspended for Sunday’s trip to Thomond Park, the Catalans are sure to provide stubborn resistance.
They won’t be fazed by playing Munster, opponents they are familiar with from their previous Heineken Cup meetings, including a 2006 quarter-final which Munster won 19-10 at Lansdowne Road.
USAP Perpignan boast several names who will be familiar to Munster fans.
TWENTY eight-year-old Welsh international Hook has made a huge impression since joining Perpignan in 2011. The utility back can play at fly-half, as well as at centre and full-back.
Hook, who recently signed a new four-year deal with Perpignan is a good distribution skills, possesses great tactical awareness and is a reliable goal kicker.
THE hugely exciting winger made his French international debut in the recent autumn international against Tonga and also started against South Africa in the final November Test.
The 24-year-old is a quality finisher , who has been leading the way as top try-scorer in the French Top 14 through the opening four months of the season.
Munster must ensure they limit Guitoune’s attacking opportunities.
Classy out-half Lopez has made a big impressing since joined USAP Perpignan during the summer, with his arrival resulting in the redeployment of James Hook to fullback. Lopez won his first international cap for France in June against the All Blacks. Lopez is an exciting talent with ball in hand and Munster can’t afford to give him any space.
Thirty one-year-old Marty is a robust and direct centre who has also played for France.
Marty is a powerful ball carrier, who boasts bags of experience at this level and has won 37 caps for France.
Munster must limit his attacking opportunities, closing down the space he thrives in