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Burns earns praise of team-mates

Freddie Burns has been hailed for his "great consistency" this season as he prepares to face England rival George Ford in an intriguing individual battle on Saturday.

Burns, Ford and in-form Sale Sharks star Danny Cipriani are all jostling for position behind England fly-half incumbent Owen Farrell, with the autumn Test opener against world champions New Zealand at Twickenham just seven weeks away.

Ford and Burns have already amassed 64 Premiership points between them this term, with both players set to be key components when Bath and Leicester protect 100 per cent league records at the Recreation Ground.

And Burns' Tigers half-back partner - England colleague Ben Youngs - has no doubt the former Gloucester playmaker, who starred in England's 20-15 first Test loss to the All Blacks just over three months ago, is off and running with his new club.

"I think he's started very quickly," said Youngs, who will captain Leicester in the west country.

"Freddie has got this great attitude to training and the work he's doing week in, week out.

"He has had two really good games back to back, and long may it continue. The most important thing for Freddie has always been consistency and he has shown great consistency so far.

"So the confidence is high and so it should be, and I am really enjoying working with him.

"We all know he is viewed as a bit of a maverick, and we don't want that to go because that is what makes him unique.

"He can win games and do things that other 10s can't, so it is important that as coaches and players we remember that, because we don't want that to go out of him.

"We've just got to make sure he is doing that consistently, making the right decisions more often than not."

Harlequins return to the Twickenham Stoop this weekend, eight days after they were crushed 39-0 by Saracens on home soil.

Quins host Wasps and lock George Robson said: "If we want to finish in those top four spots then we can't perform that way, and everyone knows it.

"I think calling it a wake-up call is too harsh because we know the standard that Saracens are, and we know that we are better than that. We place our own expectations on ourselves and when we don't reach them we are disappointed in ourselves."

Wasps rugby director Dai Young knows his team must be braced for a potential Quins backlash.

" We all know that the Stoop is a tough place to go and win, so we are under no illusions about the task in hand," Young said.

"There will undoubtedly be a reaction from them after their loss to Saracens. Harlequins are a good side and that wasn't an accurate reflection of where they are, so we know we are up against it this weekend."

Saracens visit London Irish on Saturday, while London Welsh, having conceded 14 tries and more than 100 points in their opening two Premiership games, face a testing away appointment with Sale, although Sharks will be without injured Scotland international lock Nathan Hines.

"We are making it far too easy for teams to score. We need to make it a lot harder for them than we are at the moment," London Welsh fly-half Olly Barkley said.

"We cannot butter up what has gone on defensively - 100 points in two games is unacceptable.

"This side is better than that and we need to be better than that. If we can keep teams to 15-20 points, then we stand a chance of picking up some decent wins.

"This side will learn a lot as it goes on. It's a very different league to the Championship.

"It might take some time to adjust to the pace and intensity of the Premiership. It is a very different proposition in terms of how you defend, how intense teams are and how quickly they come at you.

"There is no doubt that this side is going to get better and better. It's a long season, and we are going to work hard and get a lot better."

Sunday's Premiership action, meanwhile, will see champions Northampton aim to bounce back from a surprise defeat against Wasps last weekend when they visit Newcastle.


From Belfast Telegraph