Express & Star

Harlequins prepared for another bruising scrum battle against Toulouse

Quins will make a first Champions Cup semi-final appearance in south-west France on Sunday.

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Harlequins are ready for a blockbusting scrum sequel on Sunday when they tackle Investec Champions Cup semi-final opponents Toulouse.

Quins booked a last-four spot for the first time by building rock-solid foundations in battering Bordeaux-Begles’ scrum three weeks ago.

It underpinned a remarkable 42-41 victory, allowing Quins’ all-star back division led by Marcus Smith to cut loose.

Props Fin Baxter and Will Collier were to the fore, with another major mission now awaiting them against the record five-tournament winners in south-west France.

“If ever you watch highlights of French club rugby, they often show the scrums, which is unheard of over here,” Collier said.

“They love it. Who is going to push each other backwards, in simplest layman’s terms?

“We have got a plan specific to them that hopefully we can implement. We have done a lot of work on it this week, as I am sure you can imagine.

Will Collier
Will Collier has made more than 200 appearances for Harlequins (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“You see the passion they have and the way they celebrate scrums as a physical confrontation with their biggest men on the pitch going at it.

“When they get a scrum penalty they celebrate it like a try. It’s amazing.

“Knowing we are going to have to take that away from them to some capacity and more so put our game on them in the scrum is everything.”

Collier, who is among a select band of players to have made more than 200 first-team appearances for Quins, has enjoyed an outstanding season.

While it might be seven years since he won two England caps on tour against Argentina, the 32-year-old remains one of the more destructive tightheads around.

“I have done these big games a few times, but in the back of my mind this is probably the most exciting game I have played in a Quins shirt,” he added.

“To be where we are in Europe is huge for the club.

“I think we have slightly gone under the radar, just quietly gone about it, put in these big performances, got some big results and suddenly we are here in probably the biggest game in the club’s history.”

Quins, though, are well aware of the mayhem Toulouse can cause, having experienced it at first-hand during the opening pool phase fixtures in December.

Toulouse won 47-19 at the Twickenham Stoop, scoring seven tries, and Collier said: “They drilled us at home.

“That was one that stuck with us, the way they played and dominated. They took some of our real strengths away.

“It is definitely sitting with us that they came to our patch and did that, and that the challenge we are facing this weekend is probably going to be bigger.

“The boys who played in that game, in the back of their minds will kind of know what’s coming.

“Their second-half surge was immense. They were awesome. They are the envy of most people in Europe, the trophies they’ve won, and we are under no illusion as to the challenge.”

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