Ireland prop John Hayes has a two-match start on his Munster teammate and flyhalf Ronan O'Gara in the race to be the first player to 100 European Cup appearances.
The pair – both double European Cup winners in 2006 and 2008 and starters in the sides beaten in the 2000 and 2002 finals – are out on their own as the only players able to reach the century mark of tournament appearances during the coming campaign, O'Gara embarking on his 15th and Hayes on his 14th European Cup season.
Hayes already has 101 European appearances to his credit, having also played in both Munster's Amlin Challenge Cup knock-out matches last season, with O'Gara on a combined ERC total of 99 matches.
While the two Munster stalwarts have those three figures in their sights, Leicester Tigers prop Martin Castrogiovanni is poised for his half century of appearances with Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys) on the 48-match mark.
On the club front the Scarlets will become only the fifth club to play 100 European Cup matches when they take on Castres Olympique at Parc y Scarlets in Round 1 on Saturday, 12 November. They will join Toulouse (118), Munster (115), Leinster Rugby (106) and Leicester Tigers (104) as the club centurions.
Cardiff Blues will be the sixth to reach three figures when they travel to London Irish in Round 5 with Ulster Rugby next to join the elite group when they go to ASM Clermont Auvergne in Round Six.
Meanwhile Harlequins will be the 20th club to win an ERC Elite Award for 50 tournament matches when the reigning Amlin Challenge Cup champions host newcomers Connacht Rugby at the Twickenham Stoop on the opening day.
Leading European Cup caps:
99 - John Hayes (Munster)
97 - Ronan O'Gara (Munster)
49 - Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers)
48 - Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys)
99 - Scarlets
95 - Cardiff Blues
94 - Ulster
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