Ben Botica has personal redemption on his mind this weekend when Harlequins head to Northampton Saints and the fly-half admits this clash could define their season.
With five rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby to go, Quins currently sit sixth in the table, four points behind Saints in fifth and five behind Leicester Tigers who occupy the fourth and final slot in the semi-finals.
Botica was the architect of Quins’ defeat to Saints in the reverse fixture – the fly-half failing to kick the ball into touch with the clock in the red and Quins in the lead.
Saints ran his clearing kick back and a few phases later Ben Foden was over in the corner for the decisive score that gave Saints victory.
Since then Botica – who is enjoying a prolonged spell in the No.10 shirt for Quins with Nick Evans out injured – has recovered well, leading his side to an important win over Leicester Tigers in recent weeks.
But after a home defeat to Worcester Warriors last time out, Botica knows he will need to gain some revenge over Saints this weekend to keep Conor O’Shea’s men in the top-four hunt.
“It was a huge blunder on my behalf against Saints – I look back now and cannot believe how stupid I was,” he said.
“This weekend is a chance to prove a point, mostly to myself.
“It was not a very nice situation to be in, when you feel like you have let yourself down but more importantly let all the boys down.
“It took me a little while to get over it but I was straight back into it against Gloucester and then Leicester – I played well and we got a good win that helped my confidence.
“Last week was quite a weird one, we went into the game quite confident but we didn’t play very well, we didn’t get the rub of the green with a few things as well.
“We just couldn’t get anything going in the end. Inconsistency has been a real problem for us
“The game against Northampton is going to be huge.
“We literally have to put in a performance this weekend, if we don’t we have made it pretty much impossible for ourselves to get into the top four.
“The boys know where we are at, we have to go to Franklins and win – it’s a bit of an uphill battle but we can still do it.”
Evans’ season-ending injury has afforded Botica his longest prolonged spell at fly-half for Quins since he joined the club.
And the Kiwi-born son of All Black legend Frano is confident that the Stoop faithful have not seen the best of him yet.
“Personally, I have been quite happy. I have always been quite confident with my goal kicking and it has been up there where I want it to be,” he added.
“With this increase in game time it was more about my game management, I wanted to see where I was at in terms of controlling the boys around the field.
“And after the last few games I feel I have done pretty well but I have still got a way to go.”
If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May, tickets are still available from premiershiprugby.com/final.