We don’t want to be chasing game warns Clifford
BACK-ROWER Jack Clifford reckons Harlequins must fly off the blocks if they are to stop Wasps recording their third win of the season when the two meet at the Ricoh Arena today.
Quins were stunned in the opening round by London Irish at Twickenham before getting their season going with a 28-17 win over Gloucester last Saturday.
For Clifford, aside from the obvious outcome of the game, the main difference between Quins’ first two games was the quality and urgency of their defence and he wants to see more of the same against the high-flying Wasps.
“We can’t let Wasps get an early lead and be forced to chase the game,” he told
TRP. “That’s when mistakes happen and dropping balls is not the best thing to do against a team like Wasps.
“If we do lose possession, we’ll have to win the reaction battle because they’ve shown how quickly they can counter attack.
“They have a really good back three and also someone like Danny Cipriani at fly-half who really revels in loose play.
“We lost against Irish because of our defence but it won us the game against Gloucester. The line speed was much better against Gloucester and it gave us a lot of momentum.
“If you look at Wasps attack, it’s pretty obvious that we’ll have to be on our mettle when it comes to our defence.
“But we’ll have to make sure we remain connected as a unit rather than have a player rushing off trying to solve the world by himself. You can’t be too eager and leave dog legs against a team like Wasps.
“We’re probably going there as underdogs but we’re looking forward to the challenge and hope we can keep going after that win against Gloucester.”
With Nick Evans retiring at the end of last season, Quins have lost a huge amount of experience in the fly-half shirt and so far the responsibility to lead the attack has landed on teen-sensation Marcus Smith, who left Brighton College only last summer.
But rather than worry about his young teammate, Clifford reveals the 18-yearold, who wasn’t born when Jonny Wilkinson made his England debut, has quickly put everyone at ease.
He added: “We’ve got to go out there and match our defence with a very good attack. We have a very young fly-half in Marcus but he’s been brilliant at running our attack so far.
“He put any doubts regarding his age and lack of experience to bed very quickly by bossing the team around
“He’s got a real confidence in his own abilities and that makes the rest of the team trust him. He’s an excellent player and I can’t wait to see how he progresses.”
Urgency: Jack Clifford