Billy Millard praised Harlequins’ physicality after they thumped league leaders Sale Sharks 36-3 in a statement Premiership performance.

In the first game since England captain Owen Farrell announced he is stepping back from international rugby for the Six Nations, the two most likely replacements for the fly-half jersey went head-to-head.

Quins’ Marcus Smith certainly made a compelling case with an excellent display opposite Sale’s George Ford, setting up two tries and kicking nine points.
Smith set up Tyrone Green with a gorgeous cross-field kick, while Sam Riley, Will Joseph (2) and Danny Care also bagged tries.

Sale stay top of the Premiership but Quins are now second and just a point behind, though they could be fourth by Sunday evening if results go against them.

Following a heavy home defeat at the hands of Saracens last month, Harlequins have been targeting this fixture and Millard was thrilled to see his team prevail.

“We had a big week, we put a lot of emphasis on this game,” the director of rugby said.

"We weren't happy with our performance here against Sarries, so the chat was good all week, but we backed it up.

"Everyone talks about our DNA, but that only comes alive if we're physical, and we were up against the most physical team, so it was a bit of a man test, some pretty eye-to-eye words and the boys took hold of it.

"On the back of sticking to the gameplan, having that physicality, we had a few Quins moments."