ELLIOTT Stooke says there is still plenty of aura surrounding French superpowers Toulon as Bath travel to take on the three-time European Champions Cup winners this weekend.

Toulon won the competition three times in a row between 2013 and 2015 but are not enjoying their most stellar season in 2017-18 and are currently down in seventh in the Top 14 table.

Both sides have already claimed a win each over Scarlets and Benetton Treviso so far in Pool Five and are level on eight points apiece.

Todd Blackadder takes his side to Stade Mayol on Saturday before the teams resume battle back at The Rec next weekend and second row Stooke believes Toulon remain one of the toughest competitors on the continent.

“Europe has been a good competition for us but we have got the French giants this weekend, so we know we’re in for a tough game,” said Stooke.

“They are probably not in the top form that they showed a few seasons ago but they really do raise their game for European competition.

“We have them in back-to-back games and it is going to be massive battle both at home and away. If we can put ourselves in good position by winning this weekend, it’ll set us up nicely for the home game the week after.

“In the Premiership or in Europe, there are no easy games. When we played Treviso at home, people thought we could just rock up and turn them over but they were stiff competition for 70 minutes.

“Against Toulon, we are going to have to be on the top of our game for 80 minutes.

“It is week in, week out, relentlessly hard games. We relish that and look forward to the challenge.”

Bath are looking to bounce back from last weekend’s 42-29 defeat at Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs.

Four first-half tries put the home side in control at the break but second-half touchdowns from Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, Aled Brew and Matt Banahan rescued a bonus point for Bath.

“We pride ourselves on our defence and we really let ourselves down against Exeter,” said Stooke.

“We picked it up in the second half and thankfully came away with a point.

“The Premiership is exceptionally tight so every point you pick up will count towards the goal at the end of the season, which is to reach the play-offs.”

Stooke was one of three players to sign new contracts at Bath this week, with fellow forwards Tom Ellis and Josh Bayliss also extending their stays at the Rec.

Director of rugby Blackadder said: “We’re delighted that Josh, Tom and Elliott have agreed to stay at the club. All three are very talented young players who, importantly, have a fantastic attitude to taking us forward in the coming seasons.

“Building and evolving the squad is a real focus for us – we want to have a really strong combination of talented youngsters and world-class experienced guys, and these re-signings are all evidence of that and fit into the club’s ethos.

“We’re looking forward to working with them all and helping them continue to develop over the coming seasons.”