Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Burke Can Brive Fire

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Burke Can Brive Fire

Article excerpt


HARLEQUINS will be fully tested by French flair and fire over the next two weekends, with fly-half Paul Burke confident-that the side can at last shake off the tag of being "the underachievers of English rugby".

It is an exciting time for Quins, who are in the unusual position of selecting from an entirely fit squad for tomorrow's Parker Pen Challenge Cup quarterfinal first-leg visit of Brive.

Jason Leonard plays at tight-head prop and Ace Tiatia is chosen on the blindside flank as boss Mark Evans, delighted at the competition for places which full availability has brought, names players of the calibre of Tony Diprose, Mike Worsley and Bill Davison on the bench.

Burke and Will Greenwood are the only survivors of the team which won 20-13 in Brive in early 2001, when that quarterfinal victory propelled Quins to European Shield success.

But trophies have generally been in short supply in recent times for a club with the reputation of being aristocrats of English domestic rugby, a state of affairs which Burke says Quins are desperate to change.

Burke said: "I have been at Quins for four years now and I'm as aware as anyone that people call us the underachievers of English rugby. But things are looking very good at the moment and hopefully we can begin to show everyone what we can do.

"We began this season well, but then a lot of injuries kicked in. It is only in recent weeks, with those having cleared up and our World Cup players having returned, that a clearer picture has been created. We are still joint fourth in the Zurich Premiership and getting to the last eight of the Parker Pen also gives us a great chance of pushing on towards success.

"But Brive will be a stern test for us and we must win the first leg. To go to France (for the return leg) is hard at any time, but to have to go there to win will make it very tough. …

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