Toyota Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn has underlined how seriously his team are taking their entry into this season’s EPCR Challenge Cup.

The Free State side join this season’s competition along with fellow South African club Emirates Lions as part of a landmark expansion of EPCR’s tournaments.

Ebersohn, who lifted the Challenge Cup with Montpellier in 2016 and racked up 28 appearances in EPCR competitions during his time with them and Castres Olympique, says Toyota Cheetahs are honoured to be involved this campaign.

“For Free State Cheetah Rugby, playing in this competition means a lot,” the 33-year-old said. “It’s a big deal for us. We are very excited.

“It’s going to mean a hell of a lot to our union also to a lot of the players, to be able to play on that level, to play against international opposition. It’s going to be very, very good for our club.

“I’ve been privileged to have played in this competition before, so in 2016 we won the competition with Montpellier, and it was definitely a big standout memory for myself.”

Toyota Cheetahs will play their home EPCR Challenge Cup pool stage fixtures at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma and will host and travel to both Section Paloise and Scarlets in their four Pool B clashes.

Their EPCR Challenge Cup debut will be an away day at Pau’s Stade du Hameau on December 10, but Ebersohn is particularly excited for a trip to Scarlets’ Parc y Scarlets in Round 3 on January 13.

“They are both brilliant teams, very traditional teams, proud unions with very proud history, as ourselves, so we are very excited and privileged to play against them,” he said.

“It’s exciting for me to get everyone to play at new stadiums and new grounds. I’ve never played Scarlets before. It will be an honor for me to play in that stadium.

“I’ve played at Pau couple of times and in Italy, but not in Parma where we will be based. It will be a massive honour for myself and our whole group.

“We’re a bunch of humble guys who would be honored to play in those prestigious grounds.”