Heineken Cup holders Leinster aren’t going to be fooled into thinking they can expect an easy ride in Friday night’s quarter-final after ASM Clermont Auvergne went down 19-10 against struggling Stade Francais Paris in the Top 14 at the weekend.

Their three tries to one defeat at Stade de France meant they lost ground to Toulon, who moved into second place with their 31-13 home win over Bayonne, and Toulouse, who are now only one point behind them in the race for a top four finish after their 28-23 home win over Racing-Metro.

But Leinster coach Michael Cheika, who will be coaching at Stade Francias next season, isn’t going to be kidded into thinking his side’s task at the RDS will be any easier as a result.

Shortly after his team beat Munster 16-15 in Thomond Park last Friday night Cheika declared ASM as one of the strongest teams in Europe. Despite their defeat in Paris, he knows they are going to prove a mighty obstacle to overcome as Leinster attempt to hold onto their Heineken Cup crown.

“They didn’t win the game but, if you look at their performances over the entire season, they’re a pack of power. They have some unbelievable threats that we’re going to have to deal,” said Cheika.

“Are they the most complete side in France? I think so. They seem to have a bit of everything; big power up front, an excellent set piece, they can be very destructive in the maul and they have some interesting play-makers such as Morgan Parra, who was the player of the Six Nations.

“He’s orchestrating everything around the base, there’s Brock James and they have a lot of other threats across their backline and off the bench as well. We see them as the best team that’s operating in France at the moment and I think it really resonates for us that it’s going to be a massive game.

“They have a really strong defence and an excellent kicking game – they’re very complete. As far as their position in the Top 14 is concerned, two of the three teams ahead of them aren’t playing in Europe.”

Cheika has named the Leinster team for Friday night’s Heineken Cup quarter final.

Brian O’Driscoll partners international colleague Gordon D’Arcy at centre for Friday’s sellout encounter, in a backline which includes the returning Shane Horgan from injury. Horgan lines up on the right wing in a back three which also features Rob Kearney (full-back) and Isa Nacewa (left wing).

In the pack, Leo Cullen skippers the side and is partnered at second row by Scotland’s Nathan Hines. Stan Wright continues in the front row alongside John Fogarty and CJ van der Linde, while Kevin McLaughlin takes his place in the back-row alongside fellow Ireland colleagues Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip.

“Friday’s win makes this week a bit easier, but we’ve learned too many times in all competitions that the last week means nothing unless you back it up the next week. It is sudden death football now, so I think it’s going to come down to who wants it more on the night.

”Clermont are a team who don’t seem to have an issue about going away from home. They have shown their strategic prowess in the two matches they played in their Pool against Leicester and the Ospreys. “They’re also very well managed and it’s going to be the biggest battle of our season so far.”