Mako Vunipola believes Saracens have got a big opportunity to go all the way in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup if they can overcome holders Stade Rochelais at their hostile Stade Marcel-Deflandre base on Sunday.

The Gallagher Premiership leaders had to dig deep before eventually overcoming a resilient Ospreys 35-20 at Stonex Stadium in last weekend’s last-16 tie to rubberstamp their mouthwatering quarter-final showdown with the star-studded French Top 14 outfit.

Two tries from Max Malins, plus others from Duncan Taylor and Tom Woolstencroft and 15 points from Owen Farrell was more than enough to see off the Swansea-based visitors from the United Rugby Championship, who led at half-time through tries from Michael Collins and Keiran Williams.

Stade Rochelais, who are currently second behind Stade Toulousian in Top 14, managed to scrape past Gloucester 29-26 thanks to Teddy Thomas’s late try to keep their title defence alive.

The Maritimes from France’s Western coast were already guaranteed a home tie before the last-16 ties concluded and outside half Antoine Hastoy is the competition’s leading points scorer with 59 points, while Jonathan Danty, Redi Wardi and Gregory Alldritt all featured in France’s 2023 Guinness Six Nations campaign.

And prop Vunipola, 32, who played alongside younger brother Billy on Sunday, picked out a few of Stade Rochelais' influential players Sarries will have to keep an eye on.

“Stade Rochelais are champions for a reason because they've got a dominate pack - part of that probably because of their size - but they can also play the ball as well,” he said.

“We know full well about Will Skelton and Antoine Hastoy and there’s enough interest for players around them.

“Uini Antonio and Gregory Alldritt also at the back, so there’s going to be a massive challenge for us in the pack, but these are the games we want to be playing in and it’s going to be an exciting game.

“I guess it’s not only weight they bring. They are very good at scrummage as well, so as I said it’s going to be a tough battle no matter what aspects of the game, but we’re excited to have the opportunity to progress.

“We'd rather be playing in this tournament no matter what and to have a quarter-final against the reigning champions is something us players that don’t need that much getting up for and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Vunipola and his Sarries colleagues will not be phased by the hostile welcome they expect to receive from the locals in La Rochelle come Sunday afternoon at 3pm.

“As a player you want to be playing in these hostile atmospheres,” Vunipola added.

“Everytime they need a lift the crowd is always there with them, so it’s amazing. Obviously, you'd rather have it on your side but is what it is.

"However as an opposition player it’s just amazing to be involved in those kind of situations. Those are the moments you want to be stepping into that pressure and that’s what we have to try to do.”

You can see how Saracens get on by tuning into ITV or BT Sport from 2.30pm.