Newcastle Falcons will see a familiar face when they meet Brive in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Kingston Park on Thursday night in their European Challenge Cup clash.
Steve Thompson, the former British and Irish Lions, England and Northampton Saints hooker is now part of the Brive coaching team and will be out to help the 1997 Heineken Cup winners try and down the Falcons in what he sees as the key Pool 3 game in the tournament.
"We are in a pretty tough Pool in this season's European Challenge Cup," said Thompson. "Although I don't know El Salvador at all, Connacht Rugby are real veterans of this tournament and do well pretty much every year.
"I think they will be looking for a way into the Heineken Cup and are going to be tough to beat but as far as going away to Newcastle is concerned, it's probably the toughest game.
"They have a good home record and, if Jonny Wilkinson is in the side, you can't afford to lose your discipline and that adds extra pressure.
"They have always been a team who win enough ball up front and then have the young back line, but, with the likes of Carl Hayman coming into the team, that's a real declaration of intent in terms of their play up front and we'll be expecting serious things from their pack.
"And as for their backs the once very young back line of Flood, Tait and Noon, set up by Wilkinson, is now an experienced international back line and a very tough prospect for the opposition. I really think they are the team to watch this year.
"Obviously it's a massive blow for Newcastle to have lost Matthew Burke - he is a real marshal at the back, keeping control of the young guys and they will really miss him.
"But they have a wealth of talent there and as long as they can keep control and confidence in the backs, they are really a force to be reckoned with."
And Thompson could not be happier with his move across the Channel - and his return to playing action as a 26th minute replacement in the 15-6 Round 1 win over Connacht.
"I was really excited about the prospect of just coming to Brive and being involved in the club," he said. "To be playing for them already is fantastic.
"I wanted to come to France to see what it's like, to come to a country where they can sell 80,000 tickets for a normal league game is a great opportunity.
"And you get something really unique with the European Challenge Cup.
"It was interesting talking to some of the people from the international teams during the World Cup because they'd only ever seen St Denis in November and to actually see the South of France and the real rugby culture over here in all of the southern towns is amazing.
"It's something you get to experience in European club rugby which you really miss out on if you are just involved in international rugby.
"I came to Brive's last match of the season against Bayonne and both teams were safe and exhausted so it was a pretty awful game. I had signed by then as back room staff and with no suggestion of ever playing again and the club got me to walk out onto the pitch before the game to be presented to the supporters.
"Going out as someone who wasn't even going to play in front of a crowd of 15,000 people who then went wild was such an awesome feeling.
"I had come to terms with the fact that I was not going to play again, but it was at that point when I asked myself "is there any way I can come back and play?
"There's such a feeling of community between the rugby club and the people here and you really want to be a part of it and do everything you can for these people.
"We had a decent run last season but this year we are making a lot of changes and looking to have a much better year.
"We've brought two coaches up from the youth system and, although we haven't signed any big stars, we've got some great players coming through from the youth set-up and with Laurent Seigne coming back (he's a Briviste) we have a much more serious training schedule in place.
"I think that will serve us far better than signing a load of has-beens and letting them come and go as they please, playing when they maybe don't care about the club and not getting the best results for the supporters as much as they could."
And Thompson believes the trip to Newcastle will be a major test of the attitude of the squad to away matches in general.
"The problem at Brive is getting psyched up for the away games," he said. "I know the French have a strange attitude towards away matches and teams seem to decide they are going to lose a game as soon as they get on the bus.
"But because for foreign players an away match is as winnable as a home game, the boys who have come into the side have helped us with this attitude.
"We've got a few South Africans and Fijians and, with Barry Davies at full back, I think we will have a much more positive outlook - particularly towards away games.
"The French guys who are here are really keen to learn from the overseas players and vice-versa, so hopefully we'll get the best out of each of the rugby cultures and all learn from each other's strengths."