Alex Dombrandt has set the New Year’s resolution of surpassing a standout 2021 by cementing a place in England’s back row and helping Harlequins defend their Gallagher Premiership title.
Dombrandt advanced his case to start the Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 5 by running in a hat-trick of tries in Monday’s 41-27 victory over Northampton at Twickenham.
It was an all-court performance delivered in front of a 72,785 crowd and England coach Eddie Jones will have taken note as he considers whether to persist with the policy of playing flanker Tom Curry at number eight.
Four caps into his Test career and the 24-year-old Dombrandt is pushing hard to be promoted from replacement to starter after using last season’s league success with Quins as a springboard.
“It’s been a really good year and I’ve really enjoyed my rugby. To win the Premiership and to get my first England caps…I definitely look back on this year with fond memories,” Dombrandt said.
“For me it’s just about looking to improve. I really want to continue to push to get into England and be a staple there, not just a couple of caps and then disappear. I really want to try and kick on there and improve as a player.”
Quins climbed to third in the Premiership after overcoming Northampton in a high-quality match and Dombrandt sees their failure to hit top gear so far this season as a good omen.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) December 28, 2021
“Top four is where we want to be, come the end of the season. When you get to top four at the end of the season, as we showed last year, then anything can happen,” he said.
“We can be fairly pleased. I don’t think we’re playing our best rugby but there are two sides to that coin – we are not playing our best rugby but we are picking up wins, which is pleasing.”
Saints were dispatched despite incessant drizzle at Twickenham as the champions ran in six tries and Dombrandt rails against their reputation as a team that excels in dry conditions only.
“I think that’s a bit unfair. We actually showed against Northampton in the rain that we can throw the ball about and we can play our style of rugby in the wet,” he said.
“I actually don’t think the weather has that much to do with it. Obviously it’s easier to do our style of rugby when the sun is out and it’s dry, but we showed in difficult conditions that we can put our style of game on the table.”