7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
"We are really excited to back in the Heineken Cup this season - it was a huge focus for us last year and it is what the players, coaches, supporters want to be involved in," said Hanks.
"We took some really good learning out of the Amlin Challenge Cup last season and enjoyed those fixtures but this group is very focused on being the best and challenging themselves against the best and that is what the Heineken Cup is about.
"Playing the defending champions at Le Stadium in the opening round is the sort of big game we want to be involved in."
Fellow former double winners Munster also kick-off on the road and Director of Coaching Tony McGahan believes their challenge against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium will be a major one.
"First and foremost we recognise the quality of the opposition we face in our Pool," he said. "There are no weak sides, each of them I believe, well capable of winning the competition, certainly all well capable of getting results on the road.
"It's a marvellous competition - easily the most competitive Cup tournament in world club rugby. Home advantage is important but can also bring its own pressures particularly in Round 1 but London Irish will prove a massive challenge.
"They were just edged out of a place in the play-offs last season and prior to that lost narrowly in the semi final. Toulon represent a little bit of an unknown quantity in the respect that we've never played them before.
"We've seen plenty of them and it's probably better to get them in Limerick first up.Back to back against the Ospreys, first game at home in Thomond Park?
"They won there last time and will travel in confidence. In reality however, any one of the four sides in this group is capable of winning the competition."
For their part the Ospreys have the target of being the first Welsh winners of the Heineken Cup in their sights with Director of Coaching Scott Johnson keen to add to their Magners League of last season.
"It's a tough group and I think it's a similar story to last year, whoever goes through from that group will be in a pretty good place. Unlike last year, I think there'll only be one team going through, as we'll all be fighting to take points off each other - it promises to be a great contest," he said.
"If you want to be the best, you've got to prove it the hard way. It's going to be tough again, no doubt about it, but we're all excited and really looking forward to kicking it off in Toulon, an afternoon that will be as tough as they come."
The initial aim for Edinburgh is to qualify for the knock-out stages for only the second time and Head Coach Rob Moffat has targeted an opening-day win against Cardiff Blues to get them up and running.
"The most important thing is to get off to a good start," said Moffat. "If we get a win in Cardiff - and our record is pretty good down there - it will really set us up for the Northampton Saints game and for the rest of the tournament.
"Last season, we won our home games and lost two close away games. To win the Pool, we'll have to win our home games again and pick up points on the road."
Fellow Scots Glasgow Warriors start at home against Newport Gwent Dragons and head coach Sean Lineen knows that a win could go a long way to defining what momentum his side could carry throughout Europe's ultimate club rugby tournament.
"The Dragons know our strengths and weaknesses and they'll be confident about coming up here and getting a result," he said
"There is a healthy respect there. We both try and play rugby and I think this is the first time we've had them at home first up. They are a good side and they certainly had a good season last season."
The Scarlets clash with French giants Perpignan at Parc y Scarlets on the opening weekend with Head Coach Nigel Davies stating: "To open up with a home fixture will be great for our supporters and we would hope to gain from an early home advantage, although we know Perpignon are a very strong team with a great rugby playing heritage.
"Our senior internationals will be important for our European campaign - particularly the big French and Tigers contests - to provide leadership and consistency."