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Clifford excited for England chance and new Harlequins regime

Jack Clifford is hoping a summer tour with England can lead to more success when he returns to a new regime at Harlequins next season.

The versatile back row had a breakthrough season in Aviva Premiership Rugby, leading to five caps from the bench as England won the Six Nations with a Grand Slam.

Harlequins have been frustrated in the league though, eventually finishing seventh but keeping their hopes of European Champions Cup rugby alive by making the final of the Challenge Cup.

Clifford was named in Eddie Jones’ England training squad on Sunday and he is now looking to build on his five appearances with a strong showing in Australia – if he is picked.

“I would love to be on the plane to Australia and getting a start, that is what I am looking to try and push for,” said the 23-year-old.

“But right now I just want to get into camps and show the coaches what I can do, and I’ve got one more game to do that too.

“There are a lot of other players playing well though, I just have to hope I have done, and can do, enough to be selected.

“You always know the coaches are keeping tabs on your but Eddie and some of the other coaches have been in contact since the end of the Six Nations.

“What Eddie said about England players having the right attitude, it can’t do any harm putting that thought in players’ minds, but I always try to just do my best every time I play.

“From what I know of everyone at Quins then everyone always gives their all.”

Should Harlequins beat Montpellier in Friday’s Challenge Cup final they will qualify for the Champions Cup and say goodbye to director of rugby Conor O’Shea in the ideal fashion.

Current head coach John Kingston will take over from O’Shea next season, with former England and Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree coming in to assist him.

Clifford admitted Harlequins have not performed as they would have liked this season but is looking forward to new challenge next term.

“This season at Quins we’ve had our ups and downs. Finishing where we are in the league is not where we want to be, but we can build from that,” he added.

“It will be good having John Kingston coming in as director of rugby, he has been working with Conor O’Shea for so long that he will be able to keep up the Quins mentality.

“Then Graham Rowntree has been very successful coaching on the international stage so working with him will be good – he was a great player.”

Friday’s final in Lyon gives Harlequins the opportunity to win a record fourth Challenge Cup, their third coming in O’Shea’s first full season with the club in 2011.

They face a strong Montpellier side, flying high in the French Top 14, and Clifford said Harlequins cannot afford to get sucked into their opponents’ style of play.

“We are very excited and looking forward to the final, I think it will be a great game – they are a hell of a team,” he said.

“It is going to be a physical encounter but we have played them twice already and won one each, we just have to go out there and play our own way.”

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final

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