West London Sport

Quins boss targets ‘flying start’ to European campaign

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Harlequins can make a real impact in this year’s European Champions Cup, according to boss John Kingston.

Quins have suffered a stuttering start to their Aviva Premiership campaign, losing three of their opening five fixtures before Friday night’s encouraging 42-26 victory over Sale Sharks at The Stoop.

And their injury woes increased when Jack Clifford had to be helped from the field with a dislocated shoulder, which is likely to sideline the influential back rower for weeks.

But Kingston believes the thrill of competing in Europe’s elite cup competition after a three-year absence will galvanise his team and that they will be fully focused when they begin their campaign at home to La Rochelle next weekend.

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Wasps and Ulster are also in a competitive looking pool.

“We will try and win it,” Quins’ director of rugby Kingston said.

“Is it realistic? I don’t know, but somebody’s got to win it, and on our day we’re capable of beating anybody. There’s no point in going into competitions unless you want to try to win it.

“Everybody dreams about winning a competition like that, it’s why you try to get in there. We worked incredibly hard last year to get there, and one thing you won’t see Harlequins do is think about the Premiership for the next few weeks.

“We’ll be thinking about La Rochelle Saturday night and we need to get ourselves off to a flying start in the competition, and it’s where our focus will be all week.”

Kingston added: “We made the quarter-finals a couple of times in my time here and didn’t get that next step further, and it would be fantastic to be able to get ourselves through an incredibly difficult group.

“As much as we know that it’s a difficult group for us, I don’t think the other teams would have been happy when we dropped into their group.

“It’s going to be a massive contest over the course of the coming weeks and I can’t wait. I’m really, really looking forward to it and I’m sure everyone at Harlequins is.

“The fans deserve occasions like next week and they’ll be looking forward to it. It’s a long time since we played a Champions Cup game.”