Emirates Lions must start fast if they are to defeat Racing 92 in the EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16, according to head coach Ivan van Rooyen.

The South African side, who are debuting in EPCR competitions this season, face their toughest test so far as three-time Heineken Champions Cup finalists Racing visit Johannesburg on Saturday.

They come into the game off the back of a 32-28 win at Benetton Rugby in the United Rugby Championship (URC), but Van Rooyen believes the sluggish start they produced in Italy will be punished more severely by the TOP 14 outfit.

“We were a little bit slow in that first 20, 30 minutes,” Van Rooyen said. “We gave the ball to Benetton and then we had to scramble.

“That last 20 minutes we managed to turn that around and that is how we need to start against Racing.”

Both Emirates Lions and Racing head to South Africa this week after their domestic commitments, and Van Rooyen highlighted how crucial the recovery from that journey will be.

“They are also going to be travelling, so it is going to be important for us to be accurate this week in training and really start like a house on fire against them to put them under pressure,” he said.

“We land in Joburg on (today) and will have a recovery day to get the flight out of our legs. We will train (tomorrow) and Wednesday, have another recovery day on Thursday to freshen up.

“Friday will be the captain’s run and then Saturday is the game. It is important for us on Tuesday and Wednesday to be spot on, on what we want to do in terms of fix-its and how we want to play against Racing.”