Aviva Premiership Club-by-Club: Harlequins

HarlequinsTeam: Harlequins
Coach: John Kingston
Home ground: The Stoop

Players In:
Peter Browne (lock, Newcastle), Tom Casson (centre, unattached), Maurie Fa’asavalu (back-row, St Helens RL), Joe Gray (hooker, Northampton), Ollie Smith (centre, Montpellier), Benjamin Urdapilleta (centre, Pampas 15)

Players Out:
Aston Croall (prop, Sale), Josh Drauniniu (winger, London Welsh), Dan Fraizer (prop, released), Tani Fuga (hooker, Bristol), Seb Jewell (fly-half, Wasps), Waisea Luveniyali (fly-half, London Welsh), Tosh Masson (centre, released), Neil McMillan (flanker, released), Nils Mordt (centre, Saracens), Steve So’oialo (scrum-half, released), David Strettle (wing, Saracens), Gonzalo Tiesi (centre, Stade Francais)

The backbone of the Quins team is formidable on its day, with Chris Robshaw, Nick Easter, Danny Care, Nick Evans and Ugo Monye often as good as any other player in the league. If some of the new players like Ollie Smith and Benjamin Urdapilleta can follow their lead, whilst young talent such as Joe Marler and George Lowe step up, they’ll be very tough to beat.

Quins slipped to 8th in the league last season when some of their key players suffered a dip in form, and it’s their slight lack of strength in depth that could be a problem this term. If everyone stays fit and the new players impress, they could challenge for the playoffs, but they don’t seem to have the depth of some of the top teams.

One to watch:
An interesting one to watch will be the Samoan (now British!) Maurie Fa’asavalu who signed for St Helens after impressing in the rugby union World Cup in 2003. Having experience in the union game could see him hit the ground running at Quins although he’ll be hard pressed to work his way into the current all-English back-row options of Robshaw, Skinner, Easter and Guest.

Last season:

Overall, Harlequins don’t seem to have the strength in depth to match the big boys of the league and we can’t see them making the play-offs this season – 7th

5 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Club-by-Club: Harlequins

  1. Hmmm, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about strength in depth for us. That said, I think that’s more a problem in the front five than in the backs. From Scrum Half through to Full Back, we’ve got good cover, especially when you consider that a number of players are comfortable playing in different positions (Nick Evans & Rory Clegg at FH/FB, George Lowe at IC/OC/Wing Benjamin Urdapilleta at FH/IC/OC/FB, etc.)

    All that said, I think we have it in the squad to surprise some of the stronger teams, from what I saw of the style of play that Conor O’Shea is getting the team to use. So, I’m quietly hopeful that we’ll prove you wrong ;-)

  2. Agreed, some of the Quins backs are very versatile. That said, I also think there is real talent in the front five, and this could be the season for them to make their mark.

    Not long to go now until the season starts!

  3. I think Quins have a policy of having front five players who are good, but not in the international reckoning. That way they are undisturbed in a crucial area through all the international call-ups.

    I’m also desperately hoping that Ollie Smith is getting close to his 2005 form when for me he was absolutely sensational and should have been picked ahead to Tait for England.

  4. For me the worry is strength in depth across the front row. With Botha returnign to SA and Tani leaving at the end of the season we have lost two 1st class hookers and replaced them with one 22year old ‘prospect’. I don’t feel confident that any of our number 2s are off premiership standard – I hear what Kelmo is saying about good but not in international reckoning but we need quality down the spine of the team, starting at hooker. Props is a case of loads of potential that hopefully will bear fruit this year. Ceri is a war horse but if he goes experience is a little thin on the ground. I think Marler will be a brilliant player one day, but England U20/Esher is a big jump to Premiership in a year.

    Fingers crossed for a succesful and injury free campaign!

  5. I think Marler has a lot of potential, and I actually think he’ll be prominent this season. He’s young, but I think he’ll get opportunities and he’ll take them.

    There was a clip of him on Sky Sports News today smashing Nick Easter in training, which is worth watching for a number of reasons!

Comments are closed.