18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
"It's not going to be easy, but we're glad to start things off at Ravenhill," he said. "The Blues have a lot of experience and talent and we're certainly not taking them lightly, but we know we have to win our home games."
Ravenhill has been a fortress in Europe for the past decade, but recent losses to Welsh regions the Ospreys and the Dragons mean there will be no complacency among coach Mark McCall's men.
"The Heineken Cup is a huge step up from the Celtic League and we're ready for it," Ward said. "Ulster won the Heineken Cup in 1999, and, outside of international rugby, it is the pinnacle of any player's career."
Ward, who played in Ulster's historic cup final victory over Colomiers in Dublin that year, says the loss of fellow back row forward Neil McMillan is a huge blow for the Irish province.
"Neil has torn the cruciate ligaments in his knee and he could be out of rugby for up to 12 months," he said. "He was in great form and it's bad news for Neil and for the club."
Ward says Stade Français Paris are the favourites to win Pool 6, and says Gloucester will be a tough side to get past.
"We're expecting a very competitive game against the Blues, and we're obviously very wary of the Welsh sides after what the Dragons and the Ospreys did to us.
"I'm actually surprised a Welsh club has never won the Heineken Cup, but now they're down to four teams, they're getting stronger and stronger. Welsh rugby is on the up again, and it's down to us to start the tournament with a home win."
Ward said it was vital that the Celtic nations broke the French-English stranglehold on the Heineken Cup.
"It's massively important that a Celtic League team win this tournament," he said. "Everyone says the Zurich Premiership is the be-all and end-all, so it would be nice to show everyone that it's not."
Cardiff Blues centre Jamie Robinson - who will miss the first two rounds of the Cup with a knee injury - says not too much should be made of his side's indifferent start to the season.
"We've played some tough opponents and we've got a few injuries," the Wales international said. "People are quick to knock Cardiff when we lose a couple in a row, but we'll be up for the Ulster game. We've managed to put together some good home performances, but we're still struggling away.
"We know what we have to do to progress from this pool. It's obviously not going to be easy, but we're confident of putting in some good performances."