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Stiff test for Connacht

History beckons for Connacht as they make their Heineken Cup debut

Miles Harrison Posted 10th November 2011 view comments

Harlequins kick of their Heineken Cup campaign hoping to take their impressive Premiership form into Europe when they host Connacht.

Harlequins, who lifted the Amlin Challenge Cup trophy for a third time with a victory over Stade Français last season, are unbeaten in the Premiership and are favourites to see off the Irish province who are making their debut in the Heineken Cup.

Karl Dickson: superb at No.9 for Quins

Karl Dickson: superb at No.9 for Quins

Miles Harrison will be commentating on the game and believes Connacht will be out to prove they are not just there to make up the numbers.

Harlequins are flying high in the Premiership but we all know how tough it is to fight on two fronts. Have Quins got the squad to do that, Miles?

MILES REPLIES: Well, that is the question that all Quins fans will now be eager to find the answer to. My own feeling is that this is still a young side and, whilst I anticipate Harlequins putting up a really good show in Europe, at the moment I don't see them as competition winners this season based on the fact that normally you have to get the experience first in the Heineken Cup. In reality, the Premiership is the key for Harlequins this season. They have never won their domestic title and that always has to be the first port of call. But, when you are going this well at home you are entitled to dream and let's see what happens over the first few rounds of Europe. If Quins can build a momentum in this competition then you never know. The acid tests will be the Toulouse home and away games, and what an experience it is going to be for some of these young players. And, of course, they will say, and they will be right, it must be one step at a time because there is the small matter of Connacht and Gloucester to come first.

Connacht have waited an awfully long time for this moment. They have been seen as the poorer relations for far too long in Ireland not to give the Heineken Cup a real go.

Miles Harrison
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Chris Robshaw seems to be the man everyone is talking about at the moment, how vital is he for Quins?

MILES REPLIES: Chris Robshaw was unlucky not to go to the World Cup but that worked rather well for Quins. He has been in excellent form and

is a vital piece of the Harlequins' jigsaw - you could argue the most important one, along with Nick Evans.

The good news for Harlequins is that Danny Care looks to be on the mend but he will be hard pushed to take the No.9 jersey off Karl Dickson won't he?

MILES REPLIES: Danny Care was apparently looking in fine fettle in the A team on Monday night and scored a try in the game time that he was given. But, you are absolutely right Karl Dickson has been playing very well and will take some knocking off the perch. Dickson starts again this week but to have them both firing will give an extra dimension to Harlequins. And, this is exactly what you need in Europe, strength in depth.

Connacht are struggling in ninth spot in the RaboDirect PRO12. Can they mix it up with the likes of Harlequins?

MILES REPLIES: Connacht have waited an awfully long time for this moment. They have been seen as the poorer relations for far too long in Ireland not to give the Heineken Cup a real go. Of course, they are likely to be a different proposition at home. Harlequins have a good record against Connacht over the years in the Challenge Cup but they have always struggled to get a result in Galway. And Toulouse's trip to the Sportsground next week is going to be one of the highlights of the Pool stages as the French aristocrats prepare to get that Connacht 'warm welcome'. But, don't expect Connacht to make anything easy for the opposition wherever the game is played over the next three months in Europe - it means too much. Quins will start as hot favourites and know they have to nail this opening game but they will be expecting a scrap.

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