Leicester boss Geordan Murphy has described Irish rugby's provincial set-up as "brilliant."

Holders Leinster, Munster and Ulster - Leicester's opponents in Belfast on Saturday - are, along with the Tigers, current or past European champions.

Leinster are seeking a record fifth European title this season, with such a pedigree underlining how big a challenge Leicester and other clubs face.

"The provincial set-up in Ireland, it's brilliant," Leicester interim head coach and former Ireland international Murphy said.

"I look at the quality of talent of guys coming through and in the Irish academies, and it's brilliant.

"You look at the back-row, where you get an injury to Sean O'Brien and you get Dan Leavy coming through. They seem to have a bit of a conveyor belt now.

"They have a huge pick of really talented players. The schools guys are effectively in professional environments from the age of 13 or 14, such is the quality of schools rugby in Ireland, and it's only growing."

With French challengers Racing 92 - Champions Cup runners-up last term - and 2018 semi-finalists Scarlets also in their group, Murphy knows the importance of Leicester making a strong start.

The 40-year-old took charge after head coach Matt O'Connor was sacked just one game into the new Gallagher Premiership season, with Leicester having won three of their five matches under Murphy's direction.

A dejected Jacob Stockdale after Ulster's recent loss to Connacht  


"Obviously, it's important that we get out of the blocks early," he added.

"It's a massive competition, and we are playing against some really strong sides - Ulster and Scarlets - in weeks one and two.

"Just the nature of where we are and the nature of what's happened at the start of the season, we have been under the pump a little bit, so we have got to go out and focus on our game."

Leicester captain Tom Youngs, meanwhile, is relishing getting to grips with another European campaign.
"You block the Premiership games up, and then you are into two games in Europe," Youngs said. "They are separate competitions and obviously the intensity rises.

"You know you are playing against different teams you haven't played against, you haven't really been watching them too much because you have been concentrating on the Premiership, so it's a quite nice fresh approach to the week.

"You look at Ulster stuff, look at their team and how they're playing and you get a different look on things a little bit.

"I really enjoy it. I think it does freshen up the week a little bit, it does flick the mindset up a little bit from the Premiership week in and week out and into Europe."