Harlequins star Alex Dombrandt on track for England return after injury setbacks

Harlequins star Alex Dombrandt on track for England return after injury setbacks

Alex Dombrandt will jump on the Eurostar for a one-off Champions Cup adventure for Harlequins with new England boss Steve Borthwick’s instructions ringing in his ears.

Free-running No8 Dombrandt was among the 45 players called into Borthwick’s first camp as England head coach at the start of the month.

The 25-year-old has not featured for England since last year’s Six Nations, but has been easing back towards full form and sharpness at Quins after a string of injury setbacks.

Harlequins will take the civilised route to face Paris aristocrats Racing 92 in Sunday’s Champions Cup clash at the stunning La Defense Arena, with the Twickenham men buoyed up by their train trip.

After an encouraging chat with England’s head coach, Dombrandt now knows exactly what he needs to do for his club, and how that can help him back into the reckoning for his country.

Return: Alex Dombrandt has not played for England since last year’s Six Nations (Getty Images)
Return: Alex Dombrandt has not played for England since last year’s Six Nations (Getty Images)

“We’re all going to Paris this weekend and we’re going on the Eurostar,” said Dombrandt. “It’s a great trip, isn’t it? We’re very fortunate to play in games like this. You never know when you might get to play in Paris in a stadium like this again.

“So we’ve got to make the most of the opportunity, enjoy the trip, enjoy each other’s company. I had a chat with Steve Borthwick during the England camp. I’m happy with where I’m at, I know where I stand and where I need to improve.

“When a new coach comes in, it’s important to sit down, talk about where your game’s at and what you need to improve, but what they also think is going well.”

Racing’s indoor stadium boasts state-of-the-art facilities raved about by both players and supporters. Harlequins are particularly excited by the chance to kick-start their attacking game on a guaranteed dry, fast track, especially after three straight Gallagher Premiership losses.

I’m happy with where I’m at, I know where I stand and where I need to improve

Assistant coach Nick Evans will co-ordinate England’s attack for the Six Nations, but is intent on firing Quins back to their livewire best first.

“We’re all looking forward to playing inside, with a roof over our heads,” said Dombrandt. “It’s got all the makings of a really exciting game. They’re a team with special players who like to throw the ball around as well.

“Nick Evans is very clear in getting the message across, giving you a gameplan you can follow, but one that also allows the individual to bring out their X-factor.

“He gives us the confidence to play heads-up rugby. We have a structure and a system that everyone follows, but if you see a space, then you’re well within your rights to call for the ball and attack that space.

“We want to play heads-up rugby, and if that means that it’s going a bit off piste but you see space, then everyone will be right behind you.

“This game has definitely come at a very good time for us, especially after the weather we’ve had in the last few weeks. It’s a chance almost to go back to how we want to play,and there’s no excuses with that roof over our heads and the dry ball.

“So, let’s go back to our DNA, let’s run first and then see if we want to kick. There’s a real buzz about the club this week about doing that on Sunday.”