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'I haven’t seen any fear this week': Alex Dombrandt talks up Quins

By PA
Alex Dombrandt celebrates Harlequins' win in Bordeaux (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Alex Dombrandt has claimed that Harlequins are relishing “the biggest week in the club’s history” as they prepare for an Investec Champions Cup showdown with French giants Toulouse.

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While it is Quins’ first semi-final appearance in the flagship club competition, record five-time winners Toulouse are one victory away from reaching an eighth final.

Dombrandt and company have already posted significant Champions Cup victories in France this season, beating Racing 92 and then stunning quarter-final opponents Bordeaux-Begles 42-41.

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But the low point was a 47-19 home loss to Toulouse during the pool phase, underlining what a huge task Quins face in south-west France on Sunday.

“I haven’t seen any fear this week,” Quins number eight Dombrandt said. “I have just seen excitement and smiles on faces. It is the biggest week in the club’s history. We wanted to go deep in both competitions (Champions Cup and Premiership), and we are doing that.

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Investec Champions Cup
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38 - 26
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“The belief is strong among the group. We have won in France a couple of times – we went to Racing and beat a very good team, and we beat a very good Bordeaux team that was on fire. They [Toulouse] are a team of superstars across the board, and we also know we are going to have to go there and score tries, so we are going to go there and attack.

“A European semi-final, you have got to come out of the blocks, start fast, be physical and up for the fight. We know the challenge that is coming, but we know we have shown this season when we are there physically, when we start fast, we score early, we do really build and grow into the game.”

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Toulouse have cruised into the semi-finals, totalling 273 points in just six matches, including half-centuries against Exeter and Cardiff. Quarter-final opponents Exeter went toe-to-toe with them, trailing just 17-16 at the interval.

But then it was exhibition rugby as a Toulouse team inspired by genial half-backs Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack racked up 47 more points.

Quins head coach Danny Wilson added: “This club has never been in a Champions Cup semi-final, and we are fully aware that we will go there as pretty decent underdogs, but what an opportunity that we have.

This is the business end of the season. These are the games you want to be involved in. We are into May, and we are in the semi-final of the Champions Cup and fighting to be in the league play-offs. There is one other English team (Northampton) in that same position, no one else.

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“We are excited about it, we are not seeing it as something you have got to endure. You have got to throw the kitchen sink at it. We need to be aware of what they bring and how we deal with it, but we have also got to put our identity on this game because we are going to have to score tries to win.

“We are not going to go there and go three points, six points, nine points – that’s not going to happen.”

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1 Comment
m
matt 77 days ago

It’s going to be a good game. COYQ

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Jon 3 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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