European mission a boost for Harlequins
Harlequins might head into their Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Munster with their Aviva Premiership form faltering, but Tom Casson is adamant the performances will soon start bearing fruit.
As reigning Aviva Premiership champions, Quins’ grip on the silverware has loosened somewhat this season after three consecutive defeats.
The latest of these arrived at Kingsholm last Friday as Gloucester edged a thrilling and pulsating game 17-15.
This run of form has seen Quins not just slip from the summit but also become in danger of missing out on a home Aviva Premiership semi-final berth, with Conor O’Shea’s side now sitting third, seven points behind Leicester Tigers.
But Quins have the chance to break out of this slump in style as they host two-time Heineken Cup champions Munster at the Stoop on Sunday.
And, although they host their Irish rivals in less than fine fettle, centre Casson is adamant their outing against Gloucester showed they have lost nothing in terms of performances and that they will soon get back on track – with Europe the perfect place to start.
“Although the results haven’t been there, and that has been frustrating, everyone has still been training with a smile on their face this week and looking forward to a huge game against Munster,” said Casson.
“We are all staying positive still and Conor O’Shea really drives home that it is all about performances and that is what we have been concentrating on.
“We know that if we get our performance right there aren’t many teams that can beat us so that is what we are concentrating on.
“I think the Gloucester game showed that we are still performing. That was a great game to be involved in, with two teams playing free-flowing rugby and, although we lost, we were still happy with our performance.
“So all we can do is continue with that and we know that, if we get it right on Sunday, then we can get back to winning ways.”
That is easier said than done against a Munster side who have reached four Heineken Cup finals since 2000 – claiming the trophy in 2006 and again two years later.
But, for Casson, the chance to test his skills against one of the best sides in the competition is enough to get the juices flowing.
“Munster are a huge club in European rugby and we know we are in for a tough game, but this is why you play rugby, for these types of games,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to play away at Toulouse last year and that atmosphere was brilliant and you want to be involved in the big games.
“I think it is massively important that we are at home because the home fans lift us, even more so in these games, and I am looking forward to it.”
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