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'About Christmas time I sent out a survey to about 20 people at the club'

By PA
Harlequins v Castres Olympique – Heineken Champions Cup – Pool B – Twickenham Stoop

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Tabai Matson says Harlequins have plenty of motivation to go deep in the Heineken Champions Cup this season and revealed his fascination at results of a survey he sent to members of the squad in December.

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Four consecutive victories have put the Gallagher Premiership winners in with a strong chance of securing a top-four finish domestically but they turn their attention to a different target for the next fortnight.

Harlequins have traditionally struggled in Europe’s elite competition, failing to make the knockout stages in nine years before this season and never going beyond the quarter-finals.

Matson, who joined as head coach last summer, will take his side to Top14 leaders Montpellier on Sunday for the first of a two-legged tie to decide who reaches the last eight with the London outfit aiming to get to that stage for only the fifth time.

“The Premiership win last year has changed the expectations of the squad, they feel they can be more consistent and can challenge at a higher level,” he said.

“Going through to the quarter-finals of Europe was definitely something they wanted to do, so it is an interesting one.

“About Christmas time I sent out a survey to about 20 people at the club, all different players. I asked, ‘Would you rather win back-to-back Premiership titles or win in Europe, you can only choose one?’ and it was really fascinating the difference in individual opinions around that in showing our different desires.

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“One of the key things around leading a team is what does everybody want to do, not what do I want to do. It was really interesting and I was surprised by the variation and what I thought all of the club would want to do.”

While Matson would not divulge the results, there appears little chance of Harlequins resting players at all across this round of 16 tie even with April lined up to be a gruelling month.

After taking on Montpellier, described as a team who “kicks the hell out of the ball”, twice, the English champions face current leaders Leicester and play-off chasing Northampton in consecutive weeks before the calendar rolls into May.

Matson added: “Europe is special isn’t it and one for the club because we haven’t been here very often.

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“To be playing Montpellier, the current best team in France is a fantastic challenge and to be away from home in the first leg is going to be really interesting.

“We spoke about it last week how we would shut the door on the Premiership for now and really focus on Europe so it is here and we’re off to play one of the best teams in Europe.”

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