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Tough task: Scarlets hooker Emry Phillips says Champions Cup is as intense as internationals ahead of tomorrow’s big game

Tough task: Scarlets hooker Emry Phillips says Champions Cup is as intense as internationals ahead of tomorrow’s big game

?INPHO/Huw Evans

Tough task: Scarlets hooker Emry Phillips says Champions Cup is as intense as internationals ahead of tomorrow’s big game

Scarlets hooker Emyr Phillips has compared the intensity of Champions Cup rugby to that which is found on the international stage as the Wales squad member prepares to return to club action on Saturday night against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium.

And with this being the first of their back-to-back meetings in Pool Three, it is vital for both sides to get a positive outcome, though Ulster's need seems that bit greater as they are bottom of the group and on just one point after two games.

The Scarlets - who beat Leicester Tigers in the last round - sit in second and are four points behind Toulon and the Welsh side will travel to the Kingspan with some confidence that, boosted by the expected returns of international players including Phillips, they can get a result against a, now, backs-to-the-wall Ulster side.

"It's nice to be back and straight back into European action," said Phillips, who benched for Wales in last weekend's win over South Africa.

"The intensity (of Europe) is right up there and the same as international rugby really," added the 27-year-old.

"A lot of people had written us off going into the group," he added of the Scarlets campaign which opened with a battling defeat at champions Toulon.

"We put ourselves in a tidy position going into the next block," Phillips said regarding the home victory over the Tigers back in October, "and we realise the next couple of weeks are huge for us as a team.

"We're all looking forward to getting back on the pitch and keeping the form going."

Phillips started both previous European games for the West Wales side and is determined to make an impression in Belfast where he feels that the side, who are admittedly struggling in the PRO12, has the scent of achieving something unexpected in Europe this season.

"We always seem to raise our game for European weekends," the hooker said while addressing the difficulty in trying to storm Ulster's home which, so far, only Toulon have managed to breach this season in all competitions.

"We know we have to put in an 80-minute performance to get anything from the game," he added, before going on to talk up Neil Doak's squad as highly formidable opponents in general never mind the fact that they are fighting for their very lives in the competition.

"We'll be facing an Ulster team that really raise their game at home. This weekend's game is huge and any result out there will tee us up nicely going into next weekend's home game."

The sides have already met before this season when, on the PRO12's opening day back at the start of September, they fought out a highly entertaining 32-32 draw in the sunshine at Parc y Scarlets.

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Phillips was benched that day but came on for the now injured Ken Owens as the home side lost their grip on what seemed a winning position in the face of Ulster's dramatic comeback.

The Scarlets reckon they have learnt from that experience and know that they now have to front up to Ulster in the trenches.

"Ulster are a team that has a huge set piece mentality. It'll be huge for our pack this weekend," stated Phillips.

The Scarlets are ready for the challenge which awaits


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