Montpellier: Arguably the tournament favourites with their pack of grizzly Georgian scrummagers, South African muscle and local boy made good Louis Picamoles, below, capable of controlling any game, especially as they are now augmented by Ruan Pienaar and Aaron Cruden at half-back. When they do go wide, look out for Fijian giant Nemani Nadolo and Timoci Nagusa. Ouch!
Exeter: Have yet to really set Europe alight – the Premiership has been their initial target and fighting on two fronts is difficult – but they have learned multiple lessons from their campaigns and will be keen to kick on. Their opening game at home to Glasgow feels huge. Lose that and they would be on the back foot, win and the Pool could open up for them. Glasgow: Have become a wonderfully entertaining team to watch in Europe but they have also proved consistent and steely in the PRO14. The Warriors were outstanding in the pool stages last season – perhaps they left their very best rugby there – before losing at Saracens in the quarter-finals. New coach Dave Rennie will be wanting, at the very least, to reach the last eight. Leinster:
their pool but semi-finalists last season and, of course, won three titles between 2009-2012. This is a club that still gets a buzz from Europe and they have so many classy experienced players it’s difficult to see them not producing another extremely competitive campaign. Verdict: Difficult to look past Montpellier’s pragmatic mix of muscular power up front and high octane backs when they slip the leash, but a fascinating pool with Glasgow and Exeter high priests of the modern high-tempo handling game. Leinster are an effective mix. Montpellier to win the pool and Leinster to scrape though as runners-up Predicted standings: 1 Montpellier (Q); 2 Leinster; 3 Glasgow; 4 Exeter