Neither side have lifted the trophy before but Toulon will be making a record-breaking fifth appearance in the final, having lost to Cardiff in 2010, Biarritz in 2012, Bristol in 2020 and Lyon last season. Smith believes it will make their opponents more determined to get their hands on the elusive trophy but also noted it will increase the pressure on them. Toulon are odds-on favourites and boast a star-studded international squad which includes South African World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe at full-back, Wales great Dan Biggar at stand-off and outgoing Italy legend Sergio Parisse at No 8. Charles Ollivon, the France flanker, captains the team.
Glasgow, who have never previously made it to a European final, have exceeded expectations in their first season under Smith. Speaking at the Aviva Stadium ahead of the match, he played down expectations around his own side and turned the focus on Toulon. “For them, the elephant in the room is the fact they have lost most of the Challenge Cups that they have been involved in,” said Smith. “But they have a lot of experienced players from Parisse, Biggar, even [Mathieu] Bastareaud on the bench. There are a lot of senior players that would have talked about that. They will have strategised this week. Are they going to deal with the fact to try and avoid that extra pressure? They have been in Dublin since Tuesday to ensure nothing surprises them on Friday night. From our point of view we know also that thinking of all the losses can put extra external pressure that they don’t need.”
Smith is no doubt that his side go into the match as underdogs. “They are clearly favourites. They must be. This is their fifth final,” said the Glasgow coach. “They have always attracted players who have played at the very highest level, World Cup winners. They have a lot of experience and they are definitely the favourites because they will know this environment better than us. But we get to learn.”