Former Australia captain James Horwill is relishing the opportunity to play in his first London Double Header for Harlequins – and revealed the buzz word at the Twickenham Stoop this season is ‘consistency’.
Horwill arrived at The Stoop last season from the Queensland Reds and like many of his Harlequins' colleagues was left frustrated by the club’s mid-table finish in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
It’s all change at the Stoop this season with Conor O’Shea departing and John Kingston taking the top job, but Horwill has revealed he has some unfinished business in south west London as he looks to help the club to a top-four finish.
Horwill and Quins will begin their Aviva Premiership Rugby season with a fixture against newly promoted Bristol Rugby at the London Double Header at Twickenham on 3 September, with Saracens and Worcester Warriors playing in the earlier fixture.
And the no-nonsense Australian lock is determined to help Quins get off to a winning start against Bristol, as the club look to put down a sizeable marker for the season.
“Last year was my first at the club, and Quins rightly have high expectations,” said Horwill.
“There’s a lot of talent in that group and we need to make sure we play well consistently; last year we did it in patches but not often enough which is why we finished in mid-table.
“It’s an opportunity to start the season off in a fantastic way.
“We get to play Bristol, a new team in the competition, and for them it’s an opportunity in the Aviva Premiership, they’ll be looking to prove a point and we have to start our season off on the right note.
“It’s a big day, four sets of fans rather than two can generate an unreal atmosphere at Twickenham.
“The atmosphere will clearly be something beyond the norm of club rugby, but for us it’s all about making sure that we handle the occasion and we focus on the individual aspects of our own game.
“We’re lucky that it’s just across the road for us, and that will hopefully suit us if we can make it feel a little more home-like going over there.
“It’s fantastic to be able to walk with the fans down there, having that access to them is hugely important to everyone, we have some fantastic Quins' fans and it’s great for us to be able to see them.”
Horwill is convinced a gulf in class no longer exists in the Aviva Premiership between those sides finishing in the top four and the teams in the bottom half of the table.
Quins learnt the hard way last season that on their day any team can beat a rival, and that’s the reason why Horwill is expecting a serious battle against Bristol.
“We saw last year that there wasn’t a lot between the teams, so we’ve got to take the opportunities as soon as we can,” he added.
“Points on the board are going to be massive and we’ve got a big start to the year. We’ve got Bristol, then two tough away games and a home clash with Saracens in round four, so getting off the mark is going to be crucial.
“It’s a big start to the season, we’ve got to start on the right note. We’ve got a lot of big-stadium experience in our team, we have to make sure that we’re not overawed by playing at Twickenham – playing Big Game there in what’s now our second home means it shouldn’t be an issue.
“While most of the personnel hasn’t changed, the way that the environment has changed has been significantly for the better which is exciting. We’ve done all the hard work, and now the real performances start with Bristol.”
Start the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season in style with two games from £25 at Twickenham. Harlequins v Bristol Rugby and Saracens v Worcester Warriors in the London Double Header, 3 September. Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk