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“I haven’t seen any fear”-Harlequins ready for Champions Cup semi-final

Harlequins and England star Alex Dombrandt has said his team aren’t afraid of the challenge ahead of them this weekend, as they prepare to face Toulouse in the Champions Cup semi-finals.

Prior to this season, the Londoners had never won a knockout tie in Europe’s premier competition; however after a ‘swing the bat’ approach they find themselves in the semi-finals.

Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Dombrandt said “I haven’t seen any fear this week. I’ve just seen excitement, smiles on faces. It’s the biggest week in the club’s history, it literally doesn’t get bigger than this.

He added: “At the start of the season, this is what we set out to do. We wanted to go deep in this competition and we’re doing that.  There’s genuinely a massive excitement, the buzz around the place is something I haven’t seen in a long time. We’re just going to give it a crack.”

Quins have had to do it tough this season in Europe, but three wins from four pool games helped secure a home tie in the knockouts.

They squeezed past Glasgow in the round-of-16, however things went up a gear in the quarter-finals as they downed Bordeaux.

Speaking on their run to the semi-finals, Dombrandt said his team ‘deserve’ to be here: “We deserve to be in the semi-final, that’s the important thing. If you look at our Champions Cup run, we’ve had some tough away trips and tough home games; and we’ve delivered.

He added: “We’ve put in good performances and good wins. We deserve to be here, so we’re going [into this weekend] with no fear, we’re massively excited and we’re going to give our best shot.”

Shades of 2021? Will Collier on the parallels with Harlequins title winning team

Harlequins lift Premiership title in 2021-Credit: IMAGO

Harlequins lift Premiership title in 2021-Credit: IMAGO

Backs against the wall, chaotic wins and an away semi-final against title favourites. Ring any bells?

Quins’ run to the Champions Cup semi-final is, somehow, incredibly reminiscent of their miraculous Premiership title win in 2021.

That season, the Londoners hit form at the perfect time to sneak into the play-offs. They then beat Bristol Bears in the infamous ‘Bristanbul’ game, before going onto beat Exeter Chiefs 40-38 in the highest-scoring Premiership final of all time.

Speaking on the parallels between the two runs, prop Will Collier said: “It’s not too dissimilar [to the 2021 title win]. In sport, momentum can come and go very quickly; and back then we just quietly went about our business and suddenly we’re in a semi and then a final. That’s not too dissimilar to where we are now. I think we’ve slowly gone under the radar, just quietly gone about it, putting these big performances, got some big results and suddenly we’re here in probably the biggest game in the club’s history.

He added: “I think we’ve also developed since then. We’ve got an incredibly strong squad now with real strength and depth; but I can definitely see the likeness between the two.”