Reds must stay grafting in the shadows – Harris

JERSEY REDS returnee TJ Harris believes the side will use the ‘hurt’ felt from Saturday’s narrow defeat to ‘build back stronger’ and return to winning ways against Ampthill next weekend.

Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris, pictured scoring against Doncaster Knights in 2019/20, made his return from injury against the Yorkshire club on Saturday Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (31835703)
Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris, pictured scoring against Doncaster Knights in 2019/20, made his return from injury against the Yorkshire club on Saturday Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (31835703)

And the hooker has reminded both peers and fans that the club’s best-ever start to a Championship season does not mean they have earned the right to start ‘screaming and shouting’.

Harvey Biljon’s side fell just a whisker short, 27-24, to Steve Boden’s Doncaster Knights after being 15-0 down inside 15 minutes, but remain level on points with league leaders Ealing Trailfinders and fellow London-side Richmond.

Harris, who made his comeback from a ruptured Achilles, believes there is more potential in the team and that fans ‘deserve to see a complete performance’.

The 27-year-old former Wasps and North Otago forward said: ‘We started pretty slow and got ourselves into a hole but came back. We did really well to get level again.

‘It wasn’t a great game, if I’m honest, so we’ve got some work to do now we’re back.

‘We have a week off to look over it and tidy up some stuff but it’s not the end of the world.

‘It was a narrow three points.

‘But of course we want to improve, if we want to talk about being a top Championship team then we’ve got to grind those results out.’

An 11-point haul from three games is the best tier-two start for Jersey since promotion from National One in 2012. The side now has a week off before playing part-time outfits Ampthill and Richmond.

But Harris agrees with Biljon, believing all the early hype on social media about promotion, and the extra eyes on Jersey after a publicity-full summer with the British & Irish Lions visiting, needs to be ignored.

He added: ‘We’re taking it one game at a time.

‘We don’t look too far into the future and we’ve got to respect Ampthill and Richmond,’ he said.

‘We can’t rock up and think we’re going to get the wins. We’ve got a week off to do our homework against Ampthill and we’ll look to fire into that with a home victory.

‘Definitely, there is a lot more talk around the Island, we’re getting a decent amount of fans back to the Stade Santander every other Saturday, which is good.

‘We’re starting to turn some heads but we’ve got so much more potential in this team.’

Harris was arguably Jersey’s first-choice hooker before picking up a long-term injury at Saracens on 13 March. His return represents a welcome addition considering the Reds’ recent front-row loss of Ciaran Parker to London Irish, while the squad of 35 is carrying 11 injuries.

Speaking about the need to be more disciplined after giving away 18 penalties at Castle Park, he said: ‘Sometimes you’ve got to play referees, you know. Some referees will ref differently, we’ve got to react to that in the moment and just be better.

‘Hopefully come Ampthill we’ll be more at full strength but we’ll see after the week off but if Brendan Cope, Scott Van Breda and others are not back then we’ve got to deal with it.

‘We’ve got to ignore the hype and keep our heads down.

Who are we to start screaming and shouting after two games of the league? We’ve got to earn the right to do that, and we’re not really a team that are about that.

‘We’re the sort of team that stays in the shadows, grafting and working. The performance at Doncaster hurt and we’ll look to build from what we didn’t do well.’

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