We don’t want to be chas­ing game warns Clif­ford

The Rugby Paper - - Aviva Premiership -

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

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