Edinburgh Rugby flanker Hamish Watson says his side are relishing the opportunity of playing in the Heineken Champions Cup knockout stage amid their domestic struggles.

The Scottish region have endured a disappointing United Rugby Championship (URC) campaign but have enjoyed their time in EPCR’s elite competition, winning three of their four Pool A games.

That return saw them book a Round of 16 trip to Leicester Tigers on Friday night, and Watson believes it will be the perfect chance for his team to realise their potential.

“It’s great to still be involved in the main competition,” he told The Times. “We haven’t managed to click as much this season, we’ve had a lot of narrow defeats, a lot of losing bonus points, a few blips along the way.

“That has been a shame because with the squad we’ve got at Edinburgh we’ve not done ourselves justice in the league. But in the main European competition we’ve been really good, we’re in another last 16 and we can’t wait.

“They’re massive games, the closest you get to international rugby, knockout European competition. There’s a massive opportunity there for us.

“The way our season has gone this year, we know there is still so much to play for in the European competition. We’ll go there full of confidence.

“We’ve had some big wins in the past in the Champions Cup so let’s hope we can get on a good run in it again now.”

Leicester will provide a stern test for Edinburgh, with Watson going up against the likes of Tommy Reffell, Jasper Wiese and Hanro Liebenberg in a stacked back row.

The British & Irish Lion hailed the quality of the team he spent time with as a youth player and acknowledged that the visitors will need to produce a top performance to win at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

“Leicester have a really good unit, a really good back row. There are so many good back rowers all over the world, and realistically when you get to this stage of a competition, all the back rowers are world class.

“Leicester are a top, top team and we know that the back row is sometimes where the game is won and lost as well. Two great back rows going at it, I’m sure it will be a good spectacle and we know we are going to have to be at the top of our game to better them.”

Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair echoed Watson’s comments and insisted that his team can continue their Heineken Champions Cup form despite their URC problems.

“We’ve spoken already as a group there about not being good enough, but we all understand that we have to be at the top of our game physically and mentally to challenge top quality teams,” he said.

“I believe that we have the quality of player, we’ve shown in our performances in Europe that we can do it, so we need now to turn it around for Friday.”