Saracens boss Mark McCall has told his squad to erase last season’s Champions Cup final win against Dan Carter’s Racing 92 from their minds as they begin their European title defence.

McCall and Sarries enjoyed a stellar campaign last season, winning the European Cup and Aviva Premiership double after downing Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham.

This time around they have been paired in a tough-looking Pool 3 alongside Sale Sharks, Scarlets and former champions Toulon and will begin the defence of their title in France.

The standout fixture in qualifying is undoubtedly the clash with big-spending Toulon but McCall is refusing to get carried away – insisting the focus is firmly on progression to the knockout stages presently and not on defending their crown.

“This is a new competition,” said McCall. “It is brand new; we have a different dynamic now and last season has gone.

"We have a tough group to try and get through and emerge from and that is the focus point for a while and nothing more.

“It is an exciting place to go (Toulon), I’m not sure if many of our players will have very played there before but it is one of the great grounds of Europe and we have the squad who will really get excited about that kind of challenge.

“It was a great journey that we went on in last year’s competition.

“In all of these things you need a bit of fortune along the way and looking back on the pool matches we had last year and the qualifying matches as well, we actually had a healthy squad from which to pick from the whole way through the competition.

“Just getting out of your group in this competition is very difficult on its own and that will be the immediate focus for us, to move on very quickly from last year and it does not get any bigger than our first game which is Toulon away.

“If you want to be successful you need to have good players, which we do have but you need a lot more besides.

“You need good fortune with injuries but then you need to be really resilient and with us it was not just last year, it was the three or four years before that where we have gained a lot of experience in the competition.”

Sarries skipper Brad Barritt has a wealth of experience for club and country but the bulldozing centre admits he is excited by the prospect of facing Toulon away first up.

Barritt will once again be a key cog as Saracens look to defend their crown but the former England international has warned his team-mates they will need to redouble their efforts and hunger if they’re to challenge once again.

“It is a special memory,” said Barritt. “We have a big group of people who have been involved in the journey for three or four seasons.

“We came so close and consistently improving, and to finally reach that goal was immensely satisfying for everyone involved.

“I think it has to kick us on and inspire us even more. As with every year it is a fresh chapter and nothing is handed to you on a plate.

“You have to work ever harder than the year before to get even close so we know how important these first two fixtures are and starting away in Toulon is very exciting.

“I think the pleasing thing was as the campaign grew, the confidence grew and we started the tournament off brilliantly in terms of a big home win against Toulouse and backed it up the following week at Ulster.

“And then as the competition grew and the momentum grew, the confidence grew, we know we had been to similar stages in previous years and there was a feeling of we knew we had the ability to execute on the day and make sure we went through and took the trophy.

“I think that is the important thing to note for this competition that there are no easy games and you are by no means assured any place and have to fight for every win and every point.

“The competition starts for us in Toulon which obviously is going to be a huge battle and one we are really looking forward to.

“But in terms of every game, they are all as equally important and you have to put yourself in that best position to enable yourself a chance in the end.”