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Harlequins' frank admission about Nick Evans and England

By Chris Jones
England's Attack Coach Nick Evans during the Six Nations Rugby match between England and Italy at Twickenham Stadium on February 12, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Harlequins boss Tabai Matson has admitted the club may not have released attack coach Nick Evans to help England’s Six Nations campaign if their current Premiership slump had happened earlier.

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Quins head to Gloucester tomorrow night after a run of four successive Premiership defeats and Evans will not be back to mastermind their attack until after the Six Nations next month. Quins have lost successive Premiership games to Bristol, Northampton, Sale and London Irish with their last league win at Bath on December 2.

Heineken Champions Cup wins at home over Racing 92 and the Cell C Sharks have been achieved but it is the league form that is worrying Matson, the club’s senior coach. Matson, whose team are sixth on the same points as fifth-placed Gloucester, said: “It is a big hole and I am picking up the attack but Nick is real quality and that is why he is helping out England’s attack. I will be honest – we are missing him. When you make decisions to release someone like Nick we were sitting very nicely. Six weeks off, if they came knocking again, it would probably be a different conversation.

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“When the guys come back from England it is phenomenal and they learn something new and Nick will help push the team forward and that is a real positive. Nick has done a fantastic job with us. We are very proud when any player or coach goes onto to international rugby and it’s a real honour.

“The Six Nations is a double-edged sword and we are delighted when they go away (with England) and you try to forecast who we will lose. It does expose players who wouldn’t have got an opportunity so that is a positive – a silver lining. People have played well even though we have been losing and they are the future of the club.

“We haven’t done well in the last four Premiership games and last time we were at Gloucester was one of our best games. They are super consistent and we have big challenges in parts of our game.

“In those four games it’s not just one thing and we gave London Irish a 14-point head start. There is no real rocket science and stuff has been glaring at us with our disciplinary record not good enough. There are lots of little things to tidy up that will have a big impact on our table standing.

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“Everyone is running out of games now and we are still in the hunt but it is very close. We get to play everyone above us in the table and if we are serious about being in the semi-final again and pushing past that we have to win games like Gloucester away from home. We need to get back into winning ways to be contenders. Every year the challenges are different and this season could be tighter and there is a whole list of us rolling towards that third and fourth spot.”

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