The Aviva Premiership Rugby season might be only six games old but Matt Hopper has warned his Harlequins teammates that they are already in danger of being left behind.
After a month’s break for European and LV= Cup rugby, the league swings back in to town this weekend and Quins find themselves seventh in the standings, already six points off the play-off spots.
But successive wins over Castres and Wasps in Europe have established some momentum at long last for Conor O’Shea’s side who have won three and lost three of their opening six league games.
And with Aviva Premiership Rugby more competitive than ever, Hopper admits this next block of three games is crucial if Quins are to continue a tilt for the top four.
“It’s been a pretty up and down start to the season for us but Europe and those two good wins have established some good momentum,” said the centre.
“Looking at the table at the moment you could pretty much throw a blanket over all the teams in the middle of the table and that includes us.
“This time last year we started to find our form after a great performance in Clermont and hopefully it can be the same for us this year.
“It’s a relatively similar situation and last season it really kick-started us.
“We have been lacking a bit of accuracy at the start of the season, the losses were not coming through lack of endeavour or anything like that.
“But we have to get that right now, this is the point of the season to kick on or we are going to leave ourselves a mountain to climb after Christmas.”
The task for Hopper and co becomes all the more difficult when you consider that Quins will in all likelihood be without their front-line England stars for this block of games.
Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown, Danny Care and Joe Marler are four of the first names on the England teamsheet at present, while Marland Yarde was called up this weekend for the South Africa test.
But former Cornish Pirate Hopper is confident that Quins have the squad depth to cope.
“This point of the year is always very challenging for us,” he added.
“To lose a lot of the first-team guys for internationals is tough but it is also a great chance for other guys to come in and make the most of that situation.
“We have got a lot of good young players at this club, it’s something we pride ourselves on and hopefully we can come out of these games closer to the top four.
“There are a few guys that have had a good rest during the LV= Cup who have been back in training this week and we are excited about getting back into Aviva Premiership Rugby after a month’s break.”
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