Premier League 2021/22 review - Analysis of every team's seasonMay 23 | 22 min read
Marcus Smith warns Harlequins are better than last season and still improving
The Gallagher Premiership champions are looking to defend their title.
Marcus Smith has warned Harlequins’ title rivals that his Gallagher Premiership champions are a more formidable outfit than last season as they go in search of the perfect performance.
Quins head to Franklin’s Gardens on Friday night for a top-four clash with resurgent Northampton knowing that with three matches left, their presence in the play-offs is all but assured.
Leicester and Saracens have been setting the standard as the regular season nears its conclusion, but 2020-21 demonstrated that Quins’ attacking mindset is at its deadliest during the business end of the campaign.
“I’m excited. We’re in a brilliant position to finish the season – a much better position than we were in last season,” England fly-half Smith told the PA news agency.
“I feel we’re a much team better than last year, but a lot of our team are still very young and we’ve got loads to grow as well.
“We’re confident but at the same time we know we’ve got to up our game over the next couple of months and come up with the perfect performance and we know there’s a lot of work to do.
“The Premiership’s on fire at the minute. There are a lot of close games, a lot of tries being scored. Hopefully now the weather is getting better there will be a lot of rugby being played.
“Fingers crossed that brings the best out in us, but a lot of other teams can play as well so we know that the competition will be fierce.
“We’ll just focus on ourselves, improve individually and as a team and give it our best shot – that’s all we can do.”
Unlike Leicester, who face a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster, Quins are able to limit their focus to the Premiership after losing to Montpellier by a single point over two legs in the last 16.
While the demise of their European ambitions was disappointing, Smith insists it was still an invaluable experience.
“We’ve learnt how to play in big knockout games. There was massive learning for us in that two-leg game against Montpellier and even though we didn’t come out on the right side of the result, we learnt as a team and individuals,” Smith said.
“That experience has made us a lot stronger as a team and the more experiences we have in knockout games sets you up for the next ones to come. They’re not something you can prepare for on the training field.”
Smith appears in ‘Prep to Win: Harlequins’, the new documentary on Prime Video directed by his England team-mate Ben Obano which airs for the first time on Thursday.
“I hope it shows to the public how much fun we have together on and off the training field,” Smith said.
“We are very lucky to do what we do day in, day out and as a club we always remind ourselves of that. The fun we have on the training field transfers quite a lot and it’s not forced, everyone loves being there.
“Everyone spends time together after work, playing pool or kicking a football about. Just spending time with each other, which counts in big pressure moments.”