Robshaw targets flying start as Quins resume challengers’ role

REFRESHED Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw is hoping for a smoother start to this season when the new Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign begins this weekend.

Robshaw, controversially overlooked for British and Irish Lions selection during the summer and rested for England’s successful tour of Argentina, returns to action at Twickenham tomorrow in the London Double Header.

The 27-year-old will lead his side, who handed over their Premiership crown to Leicester Tigers last season, against London Wasps in the afternoon’s second clash with events of 12 months ago still fresh in the memory.

A last-gasp Nick Evans penalty saw Quins complete a remarkable comeback from 40-13 down to 42-40 winners at Twickenham, although Robshaw admits he is hoping for less stress this time around.

“Last year against Wasps was a little bit too much for the heart, but hopefully we can start a bit better. We have to make sure we’re on the money,” said Robshaw.

“We have experienced what it is to be on both sides of things now – to be defending it and hunting it – and what it takes when you don’t play well and you grind out results.

“That’s something that comes from a bit of maturity and experience. Hopefully the squad is really starting to show that.”

The first Double Header clash sees Saracens, who finished top of the table last season before losing to Northampton in the semi-finals, face London Irish. And Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall has used that defeat as motivation to get off to the perfect start against the Exiles.

“It was the manner of the defeat that rankles with us a bit, having been so consistent all season. It was very disappointing to leave our worst performance to the last,” he said.

“I suppose the task at this time of year is not to worry about that kind of thing. We as a club decided three or four years ago that we wouldn’t pick and choose matches, we want to be consistent week in, week out.”

The London Double Header returns to Twickenham tomorrow with two crucial Aviva Premiership Rugby matches: London Irish v Saracens followed by London Wasps v Harlequins. Tickets are available from the Twickenham Ticket Office on Saturday from 10.30am.

BIG KICK-OFF

Opening fixtures
Newcastle v Bath (tonight)
London Irish v Saracens (Sat)
Gloucester v Sale (Sat)
Nothampton v Exeter (Sat)
Wasps v Harlequins (Sat)
Leicester v Worcester (Sun)