Harlequins Head Coach Mark Mapletoft has urged his potential-rich youngsters to turn around last week’s loss when they play Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday.
Mapletoft’s charges came up short against a powerful Sale Sharks side at the AJ Bell Stadium last Friday, losing 19-10 and face another tough challenge against last year’s losing Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists Exeter.
Despite boasting young English talents Kyle Sinckler, Sam Twomey, Luke Wallace, Jack Clifford and Joe Marchant, Mapletoft feels it will take time to recover from losing the playing experience of Nick Easter.
Though Easter is now Quins’ defence coach, Mapletoft believes his talented squad still have masses of growth ahead of them.
“If you look through our pack, James Horwill and Chris Robshaw are old heads, but Joe Marler is still only 25, Kyle Sinckler, Sam Twomey, Jack Clifford and Luke Wallace are all young,” Mapletoft said.
“We have got potential but they are bedding down as a group, we have a new coach, new set-up.
“We are not talking about guys who have played a 100, 150, 200 games for the club. You have maybe three guys out of eight, when you lose someone like Nick Easter, there is a big drop off.
“Nick Easter was such an influential player, has moved into a different department. But he is talking and influencing rather than doing.
“It doesn’t happen overnight and you are relying on the guys performing well, we need to look after the ball and we are hoping that is addressed on Saturday.”
A trip to Sandy Park, where they have not won since May 2014, is daunting challenge and Mapeltoft knows his side must tighten their maul defence ahead of the trip to Devon.
Chiefs are famed for their driving work while Quins struggled to contain Sale’s power game at the lineout last week.
“The maul is such a key area of the game, if the opposition get it well set then it can be almost impossible to defend,” the 44-year-old added.
“Exeter have had a lot of success with the driving maul – every team uses it as a weapon, it is hard to defend if it gets going.
“It is such a potent weapon, when the conditions become difficult it becomes even more of a factor.
“We have talked about it this week, we have addressed it and you have to hope there is going to be a discernible change.”