Saracens travel to Stade Jean Dauger on Saturday to meet Bayonne with home club Director of Rugby Richard Dourthe promising last season's Heineken Cup semi-finalists a major European Challenge Cup test.
Saracens, five points clear of second placed Bayonne in Pool 5, warmed up for the Euro back-to-back clashes with a 23-6 Premiership win over Worcester Warriors and, although Bayonne went down 32-11 at Top 14 leaders Toulouse, they are still riding high in fourth place of the French Championship with nine wins from 12 starts.
"Overall, we are very satisfied of our performance and results this season in the Top 14," said former international centre Dourthe.
"We are in a good position in our domestic championship but now we have to work on the European Challenge Cup and try to put the same efforts into that tournament as we were not brilliant at the start of the European season.
"Unfortunately we made a real mess of the match against Viadana, which could end up being crucial and costing us qualification, so hopefully we will get things right as we resume in the European tournament.
"Saracens are a major team in the English championship and we know we are in for difficult back-to-back clashes. We know what to expect and now we are focusing on that match and getting our preparations right.
"We want to prepare properly to honour our team as well as our opponents.
"Our aim is to qualify for the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals, although it is a very ambitious objective. I think that after these next two rounds against Saracens we will have a clear idea of what our European fate is going to be and we can only hope to achieve the best possible performances.
"The season is really long and tough and to succeed - or at least handle both competitions in the best possible way - you need a squad that is rich in both quality and quantity. We have been working on achieving that, but it is a gradual thing that doesn't happen overnight.
"I believe our squad is rich in talent but is it going to be rich enough to carry on in the long run and succeed in both tournaments? Of that I am not sure and the idea is to keep the energy going that we are currently experiencing in the group.
"We launched a major recruitment campaign, which had given us an added value on a sporting level, and this investment in the new players seems to have born its fruits and we can be happy with that while the level of the play of our team has also improved.
"Of course all the players have contributed to the improvement of our performance but the additions of Rémy Martin, Julien Puricelli, Denis Avril, Thibault Lacroix and Cédric Garcia have certainly helped although we owe our current progression to a collective effort.
"All the individuals in our group seem to have finally gelled and we owe it to a few successes right from the start of the season along with the way the new players adhered to what we asked of them in terms of a game plan.
"We have built on that and kept our winning spirit going."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.