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'A long time coming': The Harlequins view on being part of history

By PA

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Harlequins coach Tabai Matson has congratulated his young players receiving a first England call-up this week but admitted it was a double-edged sword for the Premiership club. Uncapped trio Louis Lynagh, Jack Kenningham and Sam Riley are among seven Quins to be named in a 45-man squad for a training camp next week as Eddie Jones looks to freshen up his squad with the 2023 World Cup in mind.

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Joe Marler, Alex Dombrandt, Joe Marchant and Marcus Smith have also been selected and while it comes as little surprise that the Gallagher Premiership champions should be so well represented in numbers, it does leave Matson with a potential Harlequins headache come the autumn internationals later this year.

“It’s a reflection of the success they have had,” Matson said. “Whenever a programme does well it promotes its players to higher honours. As a club, we are thrilled that those guys have been recognised and they move forward.

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Jack Nowell guests on the latest episode of RugbyPass Offload
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Jack Nowell guests on the latest episode of RugbyPass Offload

“It’s always exciting when they want to have a look at players from your club, but it’s also a double-edged sword. We will have to adjust and clearly if they all make the squad it will make it difficult in those winter months.”

Lynagh’s selection stole the headlines, given the 20-year-old is the son of former Australia captain Michael, but his form has certainly merited it. Two smart finishes against Newcastle last weekend took him to eight tries in 13 Premiership appearances and help Quins begin their title defence with a 26-20 win.

Next up is a match against Worcester at the Stoop, one that Matson said would provide an entirely different challenge. “From what we have seen in the last couple of weeks, we are preparing for a team who will really go at us in the breakdown, something that Newcastle probably had a little bit of an edge on us,” he said.

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“That is probably the first battle line against Worcester. They tackle differently. They really slow down the ball, it’s not conducive to the way Quins want to play. It’s actually a really good match up between how we want to play and how they want to slow the game down.”

That Harlequins-Worcester battle will be overseen by Sara Cox, who will become the first woman to referee a Premiership game. Centrally contracted by the Rugby Football Union since 2016, Cox was due to make her Premiership debut last term but had to wait after the match between Worcester and Gloucester was cancelled amid the pandemic. The opportunity will instead come on Saturday and Matson said he was delighted to be part of history.

“For me personally, it’s really exciting to be involved in a game where a woman is refereeing for the first time,” he said. “It’s really exciting to do it at the Stoop and to be part of something that is a first. She is doing our game because she is a quality referee and we will be behind her 100 per cent. It’s been a long time coming.”

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'A long time coming': The Harlequins view on being part of history

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