Harlequins are keeping things as normal as possible this Christmas week and centre Matt Hopper wants that example of consistency to transfer into their Aviva Premiership Rugby formbook.
Hopper will have travelled to and from the south west twice before running out at Twickenham for Big Game 7 on Saturday – first for his brother’s wedding and then for Christmas Day.
But, despite swapping their usual Wednesday day off for Christmas Day on Thursday, Quins are keeping things as standard in preparation for their clash with Northampton Saints.
Quins welcome the Aviva Premiership Rugby champions to Twickenham fresh from returning to winning ways against Newcastle Falcons while Saints are high after a fine win over rivals Leicester Tigers.
Hopper is no stranger to the Big Game series, he’s started the last three, and wants that familiarity and the regularity of the build up to be the start of a period of consistency for Quins this season.
“This week is pretty much the same as every week, we usually have Wednesday off but we will swap Christmas Eve for Christmas Day. I travelled back from Cornwall for training on Tuesday and I will travel back to the south west for Christmas and come back for Boxing Day,” he said.
“We have been playing well in Europe but slightly inconsistently in the Premiership, so it was good to get a win against Newcastle. Our defence has been strong and our discipline is improving and we are not giving away possession in key areas.
“You could throw a blanket around certain clubs in the league at the moment and anyone can beat anyone. We had some losses that we shouldn’t have had but if we get it right for a couple of games we can be right back in there in the league.”
Quins have failed to win back-to-back games in the Aviva Premiership this season but successive losses to Sale Sharks and Bath Rugby, prior to Newcastle, were also a first of its kind this term.
And, while in-form Northampton – they’ve won five straight in all competitions – will prove arguably their toughest domestic test, Hopper is adamant Quins nearing a complete performance.
“We struggled in the first half against Newcastle but we got going in the second half and we played well. Physically we raised our game and even though we didn’t get over the tryline we created enough pressure to get five or six kicks at goal,” he added.
“Our defence has been strong the past month and at least we are not conceding and we are starting to get our attack going. I have played a lot in the centre this season but there is still a lot of competition and four or five guys vying for every spot.”
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