The conversation Harlequins had with Marcus Smith over missed kick
Harlequins skipper Stephan Lewies has claimed that last Saturday’s costly missed kick from Marcus Smith wasn’t mentioned in their Monday squad review of their agonising Heineken Champions Cup review, but senior coach Tabai Matson suggested a conversation was had between him and his star out-half in the aftermath of the now-infamous conversion attempt.
The failure to kick the two points after a Louis Lynagh try left Harlequins eliminated from Europe on an aggregate score of 60-59 versus Montpellier, but Smith has apparently moved on quickly from that disappointment knowing that Gallagher Premiership leaders Leicester are next up at The Stoop on Saturday.
“He is absolutely fine,” said Lewies when asked how Smith has been in wake of the missed conversion that was described as a straightforward kick for the England out-half. “He understands the nature of sport. The amount of games he has won for us in that situation at the end is ridiculous.
“Before the game, if you told him you would give him five out of six kicks today he probably would have taken that. He can’t be too hard on himself, to be honest, and we’re happy to see that he is just preparing the boys for a good performance this weekend again and pushing to strive and get better all the time. It’s brilliant to see a youngster like that and his maturity for his age is unbelievable.
“We reviewed the game quite hard to see where we failed and I don’t think the kick was brought up once. That is not where we failed. Where their tries came from we struggled to exit, they put pressure on us there.
“That was more the stuff we reviewed, our mistakes letting them into our 22 and giving them points. And then when we were dominant in the scrum we didn’t convert that into points – that was a discussion point more than anything else after the game,” continued the skipper, who added that he won’t be in the least bit surprised if Smith and Harlequins are back in the winners’ enclosure next weekend.
“That is what the good players, the good teams do, they bounce back. We all bounce back as a team and in saying that, if you look at that first-half performance (against Montpellier), it was probably some of our best rugby of this season. There is disappointment at not going through but in terms of our performance on the day it was still a clinical and good performance. Where we failed was in the first leg.”
Senior coach Matson later gave his take on how Smith was dealing with his missed kick, explaining there was no room for self-pity in this game. Harlequins’ collective reaction at their Guilford training ground, for instance, was to go and play some cricket following the review of their European exit.
“He has to be (getting on with it). If you’re as successful a goal-kicker and game leader as him you just can’t dwell on things for too long. We did have that conversation. He moves on really quickly which is an important trait for someone in his position and with the lot of responsibility we give him.
“You forget he has played more than 100 games of Premiership rugby and all the other accolades he has got. All those experiences are really important and what you want him to do is learn from them, whether that is for a big Test match for England or for us in the playoffs in a couple of months, hopefully.
“I don’t think anyone who has become world-class has had an easy ride. Exits like this are things to learn from. There is only really one way to grow and learn from these things. You probably figure from me I want to walk away from learning from these events – these lads will learn for sure.
“For a lot of guys who felt they missed opportunities, a loss and exit like that means we have got lots to work on. We will take the positives out of being knocked out of Europe and try and use that energy to make our game better so we can stay in the top four.
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