Press Notes | Harlequins | Gallagher Premiership | R8

3 February 2021

Director of Rugby Stuart Hooper addressed the media this afternoon ahead of Saturday’s clash against Harlequins.

The two sides face-off at the Rec on Saturday afternoon in Round 8 of the Gallagher Premiership. Here is what Hooper had to say ahead of the match…

On Bristol

"Post a game like that, immediately the disappointment and the pain is the first thing. Everybody felt it, both in the club and our supporters. We all felt it.

"There are some things we took away from that game that were the result of not having the guys on the field that we needed. Those contingencies were extreme. To have your fourth guy calling line outs, I’ve never had that, and I’ve been involved in the game for 21 years.

"There were parts of the game we looked at, however, and it doesn’t matter who was on the field or what the problem has been - we need to add more and we need to do more. Ultimately where we arrived was that we were trying to solve problems on our own rather than as a team. Whether it was dropping into a breakdown and creating space on the outside, whether it was stepping in on an attacker when it was two on two – it was those moments where we tried to solve it ourselves that cost us against the best team in the league right now.

"We have looked to adapt specific things in our D this weekend, we have to show a better picture of ourselves than we did at Bristol."

On Harlequins

"Quins played well on Sunday, they took advantage of getting some good momentum against Wasps and showed just what they can do. They have experienced significant change with Gustard leaving and that brings new emotions for that group. They did get a lift. The important thing for us this weekend is to deal with everything we’ve had to this week so that when we go out there this weekend, we put in a performance we are proud of." 

Squad availability

"We have a bit of battle ahead of us this weekend with injuries and international call ups combined.

"You will have witnessed Elliot and Josh knocking each other out last weekend, they are in the RTP protocols right now but not back on the field.

"Ruaridh has a short-term injury and will not be available this weekend. Add to that the other guys who are more longer-term and you can see our picture.

"Lewis Boyce is out for the season and working really hard to get back to his full levels of performance.

"Will Spencer is rehabbing after recent surgery on a neck issue and Ross Batty is also out longer term. Certainly not back near the field yet.

"Tom Ellis is close to coming back following a shoulder issue picked up in restart.

"We are therefore working today, tomorrow, and into captains run on Friday to understand who will be fit and can go onto the field."

On our Internationals

"Ordinarily, if they were not selected to play they could be returned. However, there was an agreement ahead of the campaign that due to Covid and in order to protect the bio-secure bubbles that players will not be returning." 

Tighthead Position

"We shared news this week that Judge moving up the road to Worcester, he’s been great for us and we wish him all the best. Tighthead is an important position, and we have Will Stewart as our Premier Tighthead. We know he is away with England at the moment. We have three or four players on our list who we are looking at to bring in to fill that spot next year. In addition, we have a focus we have on developing the guys in the pathway. Kieran Verden who has had a number of outings from us in the first team and Archie Griffin who’s a Wales 20s player and very talented. These are two young men we are developing but we will also be bringing people in."

On Will Chudley

"Chuds is a great guy, he came to use having been at Exeter, he’s a real energiser, and for us, he’s had a leadership role. He sets the standard with what he does and influences people. Worcester is a great opportunity for him and his family and I wish him all the best. I’m sure he will go on and even beyond his playing career have a big impact in rugby. We are fortunate in that even with Will leaving we have four quality 9’s and it was a difficult decision that Will had to make but one he’s made for the right reasons and I’m very happy for him."

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