EDINBURGH RUGBY’S coaching staff may have stated that the European Challenge Cup is of a lesser priority for them than the Pro14, but the players are taking the competition no less seriously than they take the league games, says Ben Toolis.

The lock is back in the Edinburgh fray having been on international duty with Scotland at the Rugby World Cup and so is in no mood to take things easy.

On Friday, Edinburgh face Agen in France and despite the capital club being in the second tier of European competition this season, Toolis is adamant that the players will not be giving anything less than 100 percent.

“As players we see it as another opportunity to play and keep the momentum going. There are some really tough teams in Europe. If you push on to win in Europe then that is an avenue to get into the Champions Cup,” the 27-year-old said.

“Every week and every game we go into we are going to win. There might be opportunities for boys to play and put their hands up, but whoever is getting picked to play is going to go out there and give 100 percent. It’s the same with the rest of the games in the competition. We want to win.”

Alongside Agen, Edinburgh are grouped with Bordeaux Begles and Wasps in the Challenge Cup and while facing two French opponents is never easy, Edinburgh have good form in recent times against French teams, most notably their impressive victory over Toulon in the European Champions Cup in January.

Toolis played in that win and admits having favourable memories of playing in France helps matters as they embark on this year’s European campaign.

“The last few times we’ve played in France we’ve done really well so we just have to have the same mindset. The fact it is not a Champions Cup game doesn’t change our mentality; we want to go out there and get a win but also put in a dominant display and take positives out of it. To move forward we need to improve. Winning teams are always improving and they have the right mindset week in and week out.

“For me, my experiences of playing in France have not been too bad. It has been tough, but usually a close loss or a close win,” he said.

“Especially beating Toulon in Toulon, not many teams have done that. They have struggled in the past season or two, but it is still a tough place to play. If we can take that confidence anywhere we play in France then we will be fine.

"We had a marginal loss in Montpellier and you could say we should have won that game. We’ve got confidence from the past season and if we can take that then I’m sure will be fine.”

Edinburgh have been in excellent form so far this season and despite having a raft of players away on international duty during the RWC, still had the beating of most of their opponents in the Pro14.

Head coach Richard Cockerill now has all of his internationalists back at his disposal with the exception of Stuart McInally and WP Nel and Toolis admits that returning to a squad that is brimming with confidence and form has made life much easier than it could have been.

“The boys have started really well. In the past we’ve probably struggled a bit when boys were away playing for Scotland, but they have set the standard really well,” said Toolis, who was part of the team which defeated Dragons on Friday.

“It is obviously a lot easier coming back to a winning team. The mood is up and the morale is up. It was good to get the win on Friday night and hopefully we can keep building that momentum and keep getting wins.”