Luke Wallace and Charlie Matthews have both established themselves as foundations of a young Harlequins pack and Joe Trayfoot believes he can soon follow their lead after a run of Aviva Premiership Rugby starts.
The absence of England captain Chris Robshaw not only leaves a hole in Quins’ back-row but presents the chance for the up-and-comers to turn Conor O’Shea’s head.
At 23, and with experience both domestically and in Europe, Trayfoot is hardly wet behind the ears – but he knows Aviva Premiership Rugby game time is hard to come by at the Stoop.
Yet this season he’s got the early jump on former England Under-20 World Cup winner Jack Clifford in the back-row, keeping him on the bench after making starts against Gloucester Rugby and Sale Sharks.
“Things are going well since Chris has gone away with England, I’ve been getting starts and really been enjoying my rugby,” he said.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say (O’Shea) was looking at this year as the one for me to break through, but he targeted me for this time as he obviously knew people would be away.
“It’s a fresh season for whoever you are, and everyone has to start again to make their way into this squad.
“But when you are a competing in a position where there’s competition between great players, international players, it shows you what you can be and what level you can get to in the future – I know I can be one of those too, but there’s work to do.
“Jack (Clifford) and I are two different players competing for positions, but in any position, having those players around you drives you on and will only make you better.
“I’m more than happy to step up at No.8 too if needed, I played there against Clermont last year and think I performed quite so well so whether it’s there or as a flanker I’m ready to fill in.”
Trayfoot slotted into the starting XV in time for two bruising forwards battles, as Quins escaped from Kingsholm with their first victory at the ground since 1999 before succumbing to a home loss against Sale Sharks.
It’s that time of the year in which the backs begin to find less joy and despite that Sale setback, Trayfoot insists the Quins pack has the necessary strength in reserve.
“You do lose a few internationals but the majority of clubs do and that’s when you start seeing the various
people who make up a squad and are in there for a reason,” added Trayfoot.
“I feel at Quins our pack is very solid whoever takes their place in the team and like you saw against Gloucester – there’s no thinking of ‘what do we do now?’ when players are away.
“Sale was a setback and we spoke about how our last 30 minutes wasn’t good enough – that’s where they got the winning try – and we have to respond against a team like Bath.”
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