Harlequins' Mike Brown on tough tasks of Heineken Cup and Premiership
By Emma Bird. Last Updated: 18/10/12 10:20am
Mike Brown: The Harlequins full-back insists the Aviva Premiership champions are not resting on their laurels
Following their confidence-boosting 40-13 victory over Biarritz at the weekend, Harlequins got their Heineken Cup campaign off to a flying start.
However full-back Mike Brown insists the Aviva Premiership champions are not resting on their laurels and are fully aware of the size of the task ahead.
With Quins already expected to qualify for the quarter-finals after receiving a home bonus point from their opening game, the 27-year-old England international claims that his team are not listening to the plaudits being placed upon them.
Brown told Sky Sports: "We know it's a really tough group. Connacht showed last season that they can turn us over if we don't play at our best. Biarritz are a world-class team and Zebre are looking good as well. So we know it is going to be a massive test and there's a long way to go still."
With their next clash against Connacht o Saturday, Quins will be looking to avoid a repeat of last season's shock result. They failed to secure a place in the quarter-finals following a 9-8 defeat by the Irish province.
Brown, who graduated from the Harlequins academy in 2005, knows how threatening Connacht can be. He said: "I think they've come on a lot since last season, they play some great rugby; maybe a bit forward-dominating the season before but now they play some really expansive rugby.
"They have some good young Irish players in the back line and then a really physical pack. They will be on their home patch where they play really well, with a really passionate crowd who make it as uncomfortable as they can for the travelling team.
"But we are just focusing on what we need to do and hopefully we'll get the right result."
Harlequins are also confident that they can retain the Premiership crown this season, and have not felt deflated following two recent defeats.
Brown said: "We are just working on our all-round game as we do all the time, one or two defeats doesn't change that, we just focus on how we can improve as individuals and as a team.
"So we know it is going to be a massive test and there's a long way to go still."
"I think the belief and following on from last season, winning the Premiership, that's given us some great belief and self-confidence in what we're doing here and I think we will just carry on.
"We are confident going into the Premiership that we can retain it. We are just taking each game as it comes and focusing on putting our game on the pitch that will get us the win."
The full-back was also keen to praise rising Quins star Ben Botica as he looks to prove his worth whilst the team are without injured playmaker Nick Evans.
Brown added: "I've been really impressed with him since he arrived in the summer; his dad was a rugby league legend and I've been really impressed with the way he has played. Hopefully he can keep going and keep progressing and play consistently well."
With a side which is only growing in depth and strength, Brown and his Quins team-mates will be looking to continue their winning streak in the Cup and then return to winning ways in the Premiership against London Irish the following weekend.
Mike Brown was speaking to Sky Sports on receiving the first Gatorade Game Changer award of the season. Gatorade are the official performance partner to Premiership Rugby. www.gatorade.co.uk/ @GatoradeUK