And one of the most intriguing struggles for one of those places takes place next Saturday when defending champions London Wasps travel to Thomond Park with a three point advantage to take on the 2006 champions, Munster.
Eoin Reddan, who made two Heineken Cup appearances for Munster before joining Wasps, knows as well as anyone what playing at Thomond Park means to the Munster players and the opposition.
â00The Munster fans make sure there is an incredible atmosphere at Thomond Park so it is essential you keep your head and be clinical,â0 said Reddan, a try scorer in Waspsâ00 25-9 Heineken Cup final triumph over Leicester Tigers last May. â00But while it is in our hands as the group leaders it will be a huge ask and we will just go out and try to produce the sort of quality performance that gets us the win.
â00And the point Munster won in the defeat at Clermont in Round 5 probably cleared things up for everyone in the Pool and now we can focus on the job in hand. It means we all know just what is required to get through to the quarter-finals.â0
Wasps beat Munster 24-23 on the opening weekend back in November to get their title defence off to a winning start but Reddan insists being champions does not create any extra pressures. â00At the start of each new Heineken Cup tournament you set out to win the cup and this year was no different for Wasps,â0 said Reddan.
â00The Heineken Cup is a massive competition and, although you cannot win it in January, you certainly can lose it in January. We will need to come up with our best performance of the season on Saturday as it will be a big game and a big occasion and, while it is great to be involved in events like that, we have to produce the performance to match the demands.â0
Wasps Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan added: â00We got the job done against the Scarlets and everyone looked very sharp â00 there is a lot to be positive about. We knew the playersâ00 attitude was right and we knew what we had to do. We put the game away in the first half and secured the bonus point,â0 he said.