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Author Topic: Telegraph Article on Dombrandt  (Read 879 times)

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Fearless Fred

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Telegraph Article on Dombrandt
« on: Friday 17-May-2019, 15:33* »
Meet Alex Dombrandt, the Harlequins tyro knocking on England's door: 'We are just scratching the surface with him'

Mick Cleary, rugby union correspondent
17 MAY 2019 • 2:56PM

Last year, Alex Dombrandt was just finishing off student life at Cardiff Met University, eating and drinking his fill, cheering on boyhood Harlequins heroes such as Chris Robshaw and Danny Care and wondering where his future lay.

On Saturday afternoon, with two recent club player-of-the-year awards to his name, and as part of the match-day 23, he will be expected to inject the finishing power-play to help Quins push towards the play-offs, tilting for a win at former London rivals Wasps and hoping that fourth-placed Northampton slip up at Exeter Chiefs.

Dombrandt has been one of the Premiership’s discoveries of the season, unknown and untested at the start yet a wild-card bolter for the World Cup squad by the end. It will take an unexpected turn of events on the England back-row front for that to happen but there are no dissenters as to Dombrandt’s potential to make it on the international stage.

“He is one for now as well as one for the future,” said his one-time idol and back-row teammate, former England captain Chris Robshaw, while Harlequins head of rugby, and England defence coach only 12 months ago, Paul Gustard, believes Dombrandt possesses all the raw ingredients.       

“The World Cup is probably too soon for him although not in terms of his talent or what he can do on the field,” said Gustard. “Alex has a feel for the game that only the very good players have. He is very eager to learn. We are just scratching the surface with him. I see things in his game that I know can be improved.

“I haven’t intervened too much with him, allowing him to grow naturally, to learn for himself through a bit of failure because that way we’ll get better learning rather than me just telling him what is right or wrong. Over this summer we’ll get more time with him, unless he’s called up by England. His attitude is first-class and we are really excited about how good he can be.”

Dombrandt, 22 earlier in the week, had not been on anyone’s radar as he came through the school ranks at John Fisher in Purley, turning out for his local club, Warlingham, sometimes as a fly-half, until that side folded through lack of numbers, and often doubling up at weekends for ‘fun’ rugby at Old Caterhamians. He was content with rugby in the winter and as a punchy, middle-order batsman for Chipstead CC in the summer alongside his father and brother.

Dombrandt headed off to university in Wales intent on playing both and getting his degree in Sport and PE.

“I had no plans on professional rugby, never even thought of it,” said Dombrandt. “Then, midway through my second year, rugby became more of a thing for me, Wales selection came into the picture, I knuckled down, gave up my cricket and it developed from there.”

Dombrandt went on to represent Wales U20s in the Six Nations, qualifying by dint of residency, a regulation that applies only to those studying in the country at the time. Even though he arrived at Harlequins with a short-term injury, he wasted no time in making his mark following his club debut in October.

Hearty, hefty runs, clever ball-carries, tries; Dombrandt really caught the eye with one televised man-of-the-match performance against Exeter Chiefs, prompting calls for him to be rushed straight into the England squad for the November series.

Instead, through graft and diligence, Dombrandt has knuckled down, scoring 11 tries in 23 appearances across all competitions. Gustard has been smart in the manner in which he has been used, with Harlequins wary of suppressing the carefree innocence in his game yet mindful that he would need, at some point, to acquire more strategic defensive knowledge.

“Alex had been such a line-breaker in the university game that he had not had to work as much on his defence,” said Gustard. “He might have had 15-20 carries in a game but only made two tackles. That’s not good enough in the Premiership. He needs to be making around 15 tackles a game. But he’s working on that.”     

Dombrandt is well aware of the need to add to his game and also to get a full pre-season of conditioning. Gustard describes him as having a "student’s rig" when he arrived, topping the scales at 127kgs.

There is no doubt that Harlequins are beginning to prosper on many fronts, a far cry from the listless, hang-dog lot who finished in 10th place last season, level on points with Worcester Warriors.

“It is about working hard and taking nothing for granted,” said Dombrandt. “Just because this season has gone well for me, doesn’t mean that next season will. It’s been surreal at times but it is about building as an individual and as a team. The club wants to win silverware and I want to be part of that.”

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Re: Telegraph Article on Dombrandt
« Reply #1 on: Friday 17-May-2019, 15:58* »
Not the most insightful article - I think the only thing it highlights that wasn't completely obvious from his play is that he needs to make more tackles. But I am very excited to see what he will be like next season with a full pre-season inside him both tactically and in fitness terms.

If he can get the required level of fitness (I recommend whatever regime they put Skelton on at Sarries) and learn something about workrate and staying fit from Robshaw then it's not hard to imagine him challenging Billy V for the England 8 spot before too long.
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Re: Telegraph Article on Dombrandt
« Reply #2 on: Friday 17-May-2019, 16:52* »
Also Will includes him in his Premiership team of the season along with Symons and MarchAnt


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Re: Telegraph Article on Dombrandt
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 18-May-2019, 19:04* »
Hope Eddie was paying attention to marchant today.
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Now ex-Navyquin

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Re: Telegraph Article on Dombrandt
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 21-May-2019, 08:43* »
Hope Eddie was paying attention to marchant today.

Could be a world cup wild card, certainly deserves it.



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