Thursday, 4 September 2014

2014/15 Season Preview: Harlequins

Founded: 1866
Years in Top Tier: 26
Last Year: 4th in Prem (67 points), Heineken Cup group stage, Amlin Challenge Cup Semi Finals, Anglo Welsh Cup group stages
Europe: Champions Cup
Director of Rugby: Conor O’Shea

In: Marland Yarde (London Irish), Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Waikato Chiefs)
Out: Tom Guest (London Irish), Sam Smith (Worcester), Maurie Fa’asavalu (Oyonnax), Nick Kennedy (Retirement), Nick Mayhew (Unknown), Paul Sackey (Unknown), Tim Molenaar (London Welsh)
Ins: 2
Outs: 7

A poor 2013/14 by Quins recent standards has caused the Londoners to open up the cheque book for two of the most exciting signings in the league.

Marlon Yarde, son of the delightfully name Scotland (yes, really), needs no introduction.  He was in devastating form for England over the summer and has really kicked on to become England’s stand out wing. 

Asaeli Tikoirotuma is more of an unknown for most of us in Europe.  Joining from the Waikato Chiefs where he played wing for the 2013 Super Rugby winning side he has scored 13 tries in 40 starts for the New Zealanders and has represented Fiji 6 times, mainly at centre.  Like many Fijians he is quick, strong and elusive.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t have quite the same impact as Vereniki Goneva.

Together with Mike Brown they make the most fearsome back three in the Premiership.

Quins are losing Mo Fa’asavalu, the bruising Samoan flanker, but otherwise hold the squad together.  Last year’s loss of Ollie Kohn has still not adequately been replaced but Kyle Sinckler seems to have over taken Will Collier and specialist film maker Paul Doran-Jones at tighthead and has almost reached the standards set by James Johnson.

Beloved by the “national” London based dead tree press and the referees their style can be exhilarating when in full flow but there is a hint of a soft underbelly and a reliance on England players that will be missing for 14 odd weeks of the season.

Last year it took a lengthy winning run at the end of the season, complete with some incredible luck, to sneak 4th place from Bath on the final day, with a tough run of fixtures from January to the end of the 6 Nations and the World Cup providing a bigger distraction than for most clubs I don’t think Quins will quiet be able to make the play offs this season.

Prediction: 5th

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