TWICKENHAM has become a second home for Harlequins, and Mike Brown insists that’s something they will look to use to their advantage at the London Double Header.
It has been an all-action summer for the 30-year-old full-back, as Brown ended a rollercoaster 13-month season playing his part in England’s historic 3-0 Test series victory in Australia.
Brown is already looking ahead to a new Premiership Rugby campaign with Quins, which begins against promoted Bristol Rugby at Twickenham tomorrow on September 3.
Some of the very best moments of his career have come at Twickenham, representing his country at the venue on 28 occasions, and of course lifting the glittering Premiership crown there four years ago.
With the south west London outfit playing not only at the London Double Header on numerous occasions in recent years, but also hosting the festive Big Game since 2008, Brown believes their intimate knowledge of the Twickenham turf could prove to be the difference.
“Rugby is a lot to do with occasions and Bristol have some experienced boys in their ranks,” he said.
“But knowing that we’ve had a lot of game-time at Twickenham is something which we’ll be looking to work in our favour.
“It’s always great to have your first game of the season at Twickenham, there’s that excitement that comes with it, and a little bit of extra motivation too.
“It’s always a great occasion playing there for any team and it’s great we get that experience early in the season.
“I’m lucky enough to have played over there a number of times and have experienced the highs and lows, and hopefully we can add some more good memories.
“To be there with your mates, the people you are with day in, day out for the past 12 years, is great.
“When you’re on the pitch you don’t realise how many people are there, but when you take a step back it’s amazing to have that support for a Quins’ game.”
In terms of the London Double Header, one game that sticks out in his memory is the victory over Wasps in 2012, where Brown scored a double and Harlequins rallied from 40-13 down.
And while he would rather not give this year’s opponents Bristol that kind of lead, Brown believes the London Double Header usually inspires his side to play their very best rugby.
“As a team we’ve had some really special moments there, but when we beat Wasps in 2012 was amazing,” added Brown.
“We were 20 points down without being on the board and then they raced into a huge lead, which we came back from.
“That was truly something special, and while we definitely don’t want to be giving teams those sorts of advantages, being able to come back and win games like that in the London Double Header is something else.
“I have to make sure that as an international player, I stand out and up to the challenge in helping my club achieve what they want to achieve.”
*Start the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season in style with two games from £25 at Twickenham. Harlequins v Bristol Rugby and Saracens v Worcester Warriors in the London Double Header, September 3. Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk