England
Harlequins' Marlon Yarde targets England push after World Cup disappointment
Martyn Thomas
January 8, 2016
© Christopher Lee/Getty Images for Harlequins

Marlon Yarde is in a good place at the moment, and rightly so. The Harlequins wing has helped his club return to the upper reaches of the Aviva Premiership, been rewarded with a new contract and put himself in the frame for an England recall.

In the process the 23-year-old has also begun to move on from the "massive" disappointment of being jettisoned from England's Rugby World Cup training squad before the warm-up games had even begun. Yarde is now focused on playing with a consistency that will see him return to the national set-up ahead of the Six Nations.

England coach Eddie Jones is due to announce his first Elite Player Squad on Wednesday and, with Jonny May sidelined, Saturday's visit of unbeaten Saracens, and international rival Chris Ashton, is timely.

Yarde insists he will not treat the game at the Stoop any differently, but it could provide an indication of who will be lining up in white across the A316 at Twickenham next month. It is an opportunity to impress that the Harlequins man is keen to seize.

"Obviously the coaches pick the squad and that's their job," Yarde tells ESPN. "But I think sometimes a lot of it is in your own hands with how you perform and I'm a firm believer that if I'm going out and performing to my best level then I'm giving myself a good chance of getting into that team."

It is apparent that Yarde has turned his World Cup omission into motivation, even if an eagerness to perform has cost him recently. The wing sat out his club's win over Worcester last weekend having, by his own admission, rushed his return from a previous injury only to tweak a hamstring.

"Getting over the initial disappointment was pretty hard," the 23-year-old says of his axe from Stuart Lancaster's squad.

"But my sole focus was just to make sure that when I came back to Quins that I was on edge and working as hard as I could to get myself back to where I want to be, and that's performing consistently at a high level on a weekly basis and influencing games the way I want to.

"I've been happy with how that's gone so far, and it's just about me now making sure I keep that consistency up."

Yarde is not the only person searching for consistency at Harlequins following a disappointing 2014-15 season. But Conor O'Shea's side head into their top-of-the-table clash with Saracens having tasted defeat just once in their last 10 games and with a sense that they could be back to their electric best.

The 23-year-old speaks in glowing terms when pondering the side's potential and puts their improved performances down to the arrival of several experienced heads in James Horwill, Adam Jones and Jamie Roberts.

"I think last year we were playing good one week and the next week we were probably 30 or 40 percent off," he says. "But this year we've had a massive focus on consistency of performance and I think that filters through the whole team, and is something that we've all bought in to, and has brought with it some good performances.

"We're really happy with where we're at, at the moment but our feet are firmly on the ground and we know it's a long season and we've got to keep battling and working to get to where we want to be."

Yarde adds: "We're going pretty well and we're going to be going places if we keep improving and keep doing what we're good at, and that's going out and expressing ourselves."

Saracens, the Premiership champions who have won all 12 of their games so far this season, will offer Harlequins an intense examination of how far they have come therefore. But that does not mean it will be a test that the home side fear.

"We're excited to be part of a big fixture, playing Saracens is always an exciting game and we respect them," Yarde says. "We know they're a great side and they've got threats all over the field.

"The first five minutes is key, [we need] to make sure we focus on what we can bring to the party -- and that's making sure we get out and put a performance in that we can be proud of in a close game."

But have the squad discussed specific plans to combat the Premiership leaders?

"We know what they like to do and what they thrive on, and what goes well for them.

"So, it's about how we can counteract that, and make sure that we do that, but at the same time you don't want to get too much away from your own game and what makes you a good team.

"I think it's finding that right balance in that perspective and making sure we go out and perform and do ourselves proud."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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