Time & Leisure, Thursday 22 December 2016
Big Game 9 takes place on 27th December at Twickenham Stadium, we chat with the in-form winger ahead of what will be a fantastic occasion at HQ. If last year is anything to go by this premiership clash between Harlequins and Gloucester Rugby will be one packed full of drama.
Off the back of a successful England campaign, how excited are you to be returning to Twickenham for Big Game 9?
Big Game is a huge occasion for the club, when we look at the calendar year, it’s one of the games that stands out for us. Some players don’t get to play international rugby and so to be able to play at Twickenham Stadium in front of more than 70,000, in a Harlequins shirt, is really special. It’s a huge game for us and we are really excited about it once again.
Big Game 9 will be halfway through the season, how would assess the form so far, and what do you need to do to be up there in the latter stages of the season?
Our form at home has been excellent, we have made The Stoop a fortress so far, defeating Saracens, Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby and Stade Francais among others. It’s our away form that is letting us down at the minute and we need to rectify this if we are to finish where we want in May. Twickenham Stadium will once again be our home on December 27th and we need to make sure that we get our processes correct and keep our home record intact. That will give us a positive end to 2016, and allow us to start 2017 with a spring in our step.
This year’s Big Game is set to be another great spectacle, what are your memories from last year’s 39-39 draw with Gloucester Rugby and what are the key threats that they will pose?
This year, like all years, will be another great occasion; Big Game is more than just the rugby. We have stunt performances from EXTREME Sports in the build up to kick off and there will be the usual pyrotechnic displays.
Last year’s game was mad; ten tries and 78 points scored, what more could you ask for in a game of rugby. Gloucester have many dangerous players, we are expecting them to make it a bit of a dog fight, they will try to slow our high tempo game down and put pressure on us up front. Their strong defence gave them their attacking platform last year and so we need to be cautious there and put pressure on them at the breakdown.
There will be a number of key head to heads, with a number of players returning from international duty, what do you see as the main match ups?
If you look at the core parts of rugby, the battle at half back will be key. Rather than specific positional head to heads, it’s key to look at each side’s set piece. If either team get go forward in that department, it will unlock the potential that both sides have out wide.
How does Christmas affect your preparation for matches?
It doesn’t affect it too much, I like it because you get to eat a little bit more and get all the carbohydrates in. We will be training on Christmas eve and on Boxing day to get ourselves right for the 27th.
What’s the one thing you will enjoy over Christmas, but you won’t tell the coaches about?
I might have a few too many mince pies, but we’ll keep that a secret.
Harlequins V Gloucester Rugby Big Game 9 takes place at Twickenham Stadium on 27 December.
Read our Big Game 9 preview here
Tickets and more info at www.quins.co.uk