Belfast Telegraph

Quins bring out the big guns in bid to escape pool basement


By Michael Sadlier

You might have thought that Harlequins would have picked a side for tomorrow that was appropriate to where they are in Europe.

Indeed, after two games in the Champions Cup they sit somewhat adrift at the foot of Pool One, which is no way to return to the top table after two seasons away, but is how things have panned out after losing to Wasps and pool leaders La Rochelle.

The pragmatic approach to the rest of their season is obviously to prioritise the Aviva Premiership, and last weekend's 20-19 win over Saracens might just be the springboard towards a more substantial league campaign than in recent times.

With their last play-off semi-final having come in 2014, Quins have been very much the poor relations of the capital city when placed anywhere near the high-achieving Saracens.

European success at the top table has also eluded them with three Challenge Cup wins - the last in 2011 - hardly matching the achievements of other leading English clubs.

Though Quins won the Premiership title in 2012, it has been a case of little more of note since with, essentially, much underachievement being their most notable return.

Even so, Director of Rugby John Kingston has opted for pretty much his strongest side to take on Ulster at the Twickenham Stoop tomorrow.

There is logic in his approach with a misfiring Ulster side offering Quins the chance to further fuel their confidence post-Sarries and, of course, keep their home supporters happy.

Quins will not want to crash in front of their own, though whether going to Belfast on Friday at full strength just five days later is seen as a priority does look rather unlikely.

The fulcrum of their side is the dynamo Danny Care at scrum-half, who did so much to shred Sarries in Quins' last game.

His partnership with rising star Marcus Smith is critical, with Care nursing the youngster through, though Smith is also more than able to make his own impact.

But Quins also have Jamie Roberts, Mike Brown and Tim Visser in a backline with pace and power.

And they're not bad up front either with Lions Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler as props and the hard-grafting Chris Robshaw at flanker.

Quins are confident and will be up for a first European win.

Belfast Telegraph

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