Harlequins head coach Paul Gustard has backed his team to respond in the right manner on Sunday, when they welcome French side Racing 92 to the Stoop in the Heineken Champions Cup.

Quins went down 21-7 in their opening European match of the season against Munster last weekend, which leaves them languishing near the bottom of their pool in a revamped group stage for the 2020/21 season.

With just four matches to seal qualification to the knockout rounds, Gustard’s side will have to react quickly to give themselves a chance of progression, although the visitors will be no pushovers, having reached the final of last year’s competition. 

But despite the intimidating task ahead, the Quins boss believes his side have exactly what is needed to take the game to their opponents and avenge last weekend’s defeat. 

“Whilst we were disappointed to come away from Munster with nothing in the game in terms of points, we can take great heart from large aspects of our performance knowing that we were architects of the result in many ways,” Gustard said.  

“Very few teams travel well in Thomond Park and we had put ourselves in a good position. But unfortunately, key moments and decisions cost us heavily.

“The group remains confident and I am delighted with the growth of our team with their reflection and appetite to improve. which we know we must in order to overcome a formidable Racing 92 team who have been finalists in this competition twice in the last three years.

“They have a litany of international talent who are in form and are one of the most dangerous teams in the competition.”

Gustard has made two changes to the starting XV from the defeat in Ireland, with Tom Lawday making the step up from the bench to start at flanker, while outside centre Joe Marchant makes his first start of the season.

Alex Dombrandt will retain the captain’s armband for the visit of the French side, while Sunday will also be a momentous day for full-back Mike Brown, with the veteran bringing up a half-century of European appearances. 

Harlequins record appearance holder Brown joins fellow stalwart Danny Care in earning his 50th appearance on the continent, with the scrum-half reaching the milestone in the Munster defeat, and Gustard was keen to sing the praises of two of the club’s greats.

“It is also great to see two of Harlequins’ finest ever players reach 50 European games. Firstly in Danny Care, who played his 50th European game last weekend,” the Quins boss said.

“And secondly, in Mike Brown, Quins' record appearance holder, making his 50th European game against Racing.”