6:00am Friday 18th April 2014
By Stuart Amos
Director of rugby Conor O’Shea has called on Quins fans to roar his men on to the Premiership play-offs as they go big game hunting.
Harlequins host Leicester Tigers at the Stoop tonight knowing only a win will keep them in the race to finish in the top four.
Even if they win they will still need to beat Exeter and Bath in their final two games of the league campaign to qualify for the play offs.
O’Shea’s men have become accustomed to the big occasion having lifted a major trophy in each of the past three seasons.
And the rugby director knows his men must draw on that experience to give the crowd something to cheer.
“We need the support,” said O’Shea.
“The small number of 1,000 or so fans that made the trip to Stade Francais gave the boys a huge lift.
“The way we play will hopefully give the crowd energy, but on the flip side their energy can lift the players too.
“The are only a few tickets left and if you ask any of the players, this is the sort of night they play rugby for.
“If you look at all the players on show it is a match that really gets the juices flowing.
“If we lose we are not mathematically out of it, but we know our chance of finishing in the top four will realistically have gone.”
Get behind the boys: Conor O'Shea's rallying call to the Quins fans
He added: “Big games hinge on the small things and over the years this group of players have got used to playing big games and know what it takes to win them.”
Quins have got their mojo back in recent weeks after a slow start to a campaign plagued by injuries.
Worcester Warriors-bound winger Sam Smith has benefited from that return to form to the tune of six tries in his past eight appearances – including one in last Friday’s 27-12 win at Sale Sharks.
The win in Manchester also featured tries from Danny Care, Nick Evans and Maurie Fa’asavalu and O’Shea reckoned that was a sign his men were back to their best.
“We had a tough patch through the Six Nations, but we still won five of our six games,” added O’Shea.
“The leadership from the likes of Nick Easter got the young players through that spell.
“The weather has improved now and the ground is firmer, which will suit us.
“The confidence the younger players have gained from being exposed to top level rugby in tough circumstances will hopefully mean more passes stick.”
O’Shea has named an unchanged starting 15 for a third consecutive match for the clash, which kicks-off at 7.45pm and is being screened live on BT Sport.
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