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No Yarde of ale for Marland

London Irish marked the final day of a self-imposed alcohol ban by dispatching Harlequins, but their hopes of celebrating in style have been put on ice by the start of their European campaign.

England wing Marland Yarde has revealed the players introduced a dry opening to the Aviva Premiership in an effort to avoid a repeat of last season's dismal start that left them fighting relegation.

A summer exodus of players and tight budget meant 2013-14 would be a challenging campaign for Irish, but beating Quins to record a second win in five matches made the ban worthwhile.

With their Amlin Challenge Cup clash against Rugby Club I Cavalieri looming on Friday night, however, they will not be drinking for another week.

"Staying off the drink was important and the guys really brought into it. You can see from the performances that the guys are playing really well," Yarde said.

"We know if we play to the best of our ability we can give any team in the league a really good run for the money and by not drinking we give ourselves the best chance of doing so.

"The ban's over now. It finished on the weekend but we didn't actually go out because we have a short turnaround before our game on Friday against a strong Italian team who will be coming to put down a marker."

Yarde's form in a struggling Irish team has placed him in pole position to start England's QBE Series against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand on the left wing, adding to the two caps he won in Argentina last summer.

If selected, the 21-year-old could face some of the game's deadliest finishers such as Julian Savea and Israel Folau, but he insists he will take the occasions in his stride.

"I will just try to be myself. I don't try to emulate anyone else, I just try to play to my strengths. Hopefully if I can do that I can play to a high standard," he said.

"I enjoy the big occasion, I enjoy playing in front of big crowds - it's part of the reason I play the sport. I get a real thrill from that."

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