Byron Kelleher is adamant that Heineken Cup knock-out stage newcomers London Irish are the favourites for their semi-final showdown at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday - and that treble champions Toulouse will be the underdogs.
And All Blacks scrum half Kelleher is concerned that Toulouse's punishing recent schedule could be a major factor as they bid to qualify for their fifth Heineken Cup final.
"People say we are the favourites but we are not - and I believe the elements are stacked against us," said Kelleher.
"We have played massive and hard matches against Cardiff Blues, Albi and ASM Clermont Auvergne in recent weeks and the fatigue factor could be a problem.
"And then we have to travel and Toulouse have not travelled well in this competition. We lost away from home at Leinster and Leicester Tigers and sometimes the French lose focus so, for me, we will be the underdogs."
While Kelleher is quick and anxious to lay claim to the underdog status - and Toulouse will clearly miss the injured Vincent Clerc - Kelleher is also wary of the threat posed by London Irish's Samoan wing Sailosi Tagicakibau.
"I see some threats in their side and I know him well and he will be a danger man," said Kelleher.
"London Irish are a very consistent side. They are not an all-star team but they are a really super team. They work hard, have fantastic combinations and gel well together as a team. They have got a good, solid line-out and scrum which will give them a platform and they will be a real threat."
And, while this stage of the Heineken Cup may be new to Kelleher, most of his team-mates have been there, seen that and done it.
"Saturday is a one-off game in a knock-out competition and it all depends on what happens on the day - it does not matter how experienced or talented the team is," he said.
"Semi-finals are all about preparation and we will go there and pull out all the stops to win. You have to be spot on and do everything right from recovery, diet and training and ensure you do your homework. We want to know exactly what is ahead of us from the first minute to the last.
"Because the people of Toulouse live and breathe rugby. The blood running through their veins is rugby. The smell in the air is rugby.
"It is a very proud province and it was important that I set myself the goals of reaching the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup and be a leading team in the Top 14.
"It is great that we have accomplished that so far and everyone has been so welcoming and embraced me and that has helped me settle in. I believe I'm a Toulousain rather than someone who is just picking up a cheque at the end of the month.
"As to any differences between the game in the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere, in the south rugby is a 100 metre sprint whereas northern hemisphere rugby is a marathon - especially in France.
"But the matches between the top teams in France and the Heineken Cup quarter-finalists are just as intense as those I have played in the Super 14 and, although the Heineken Cup and Super 14 are completely different competitions, when we played Cardiff Blues recently in dry conditions it was exactly like a Super 14 match."
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.