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Champions Cup: Hero of '99 Simon Mason backs Ulster to topple big spenders

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's 1999 hero Simon Mason has said that the province have nothing to fear in the European Champions Cup.

After failing to make the knock-outs last year, the side begin this season's campaign with a trip to Oyonnax on Saturday but have also been drawn alongside the heavy hitters of Saracens and Toulouse in the pool.

Mason, however, is not worried about taking on two of the competition's big spenders.

"When you look at the group, Toulouse and Saracens, that's another group of death already almost," said the man who kicked 18 points in the '99 final.

"Saying that though, we had to go through Stade Francais in the semis and they really were the Toloun of the time.

"They had superstars wherever you looked. We wouldn't have been backed to be able to get past them given the difference in resources but we did it.

"This Ulster team can do the same kind of thing."

If Les Kiss's side can open with a win in the Alps this weekend, Mason (above) is sure the atmosphere for next week's visit from Saracens will be red-hot.

"If you go to France and get a win this weekend, with the home game to come against Saracens next week, all of a sudden you look at the group and think you have a real chance of doing something.

"A week on Friday at the Kingspan you'll see what passion and fervour means and that's just as important as having a million pounds to spend on players."

Belfast Telegraph


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