After our two week break, this Saturday (25th January 2003) we return to action at the Stoop when we face Leicester Tigers in the quarterfinals of the Powergen Cup, kick-off 2.45pm.
It is amazing. Leicester have won the Zurich Premiership the last four years, they have won the Heineken Cup both in 2001 and 2002, and are in again in the quarterfinals of that competition with a home draw, and I read that some experts have us down as favourites! Yes, we have beaten them in this competition in each of the last two seasons; both times at the Stoop, but you have to suspect that will make the Tigers even more determined to seek revenge this Saturday.
That is not to say that we do not think we will win; of course we do, but we will need to play as well as we have done all season if we are to do so.
The last two weeks have allowed the coaching staff to spend a lot of time with the players ensuring that everyone fully understands their roles within the team and understands our organisational systems, both for the game this Saturday but also for the important Premiership games that are coming up in the next few weeks. Mark Evans, John Kingston and Paul Turner have worked incredibly hard on our game plan and on the analysis of our up and coming opposition, and I am sure this will have been to the benefit of everyone involved in the team in the coming weeks.
Many of you will be aware of our long-term injuries. Keith Wood and Pat Sanderson, who both have shoulder injuries, as well as Roy Winters who is recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon. Roy hopes to be back in action by the end of February, while Laurent Gomez, who broke his leg on New Years Eve, will be out for the rest of this season.
Also unavailable for selection this weekend are Nick Greenstock (ankle), Chris Bell (hamstring), Nick Duncombe (hamstring) and Bruce Starr (calf). Chris should be available very soon; however, Nick (Duncombe) has torn the muscle and will be out for at least four weeks, while Bruce Starr has yet to fully recover from his calf injury.
Despite the injuries, and we do seem to have had our fair share over the last 18 months, the squad are buoyant and looking forward to not only the challenge of facing Leicester, but also of playing in front of another full house at the Stoop. Cup games are huge occasions and those of you that were at the Stoop in previous years will remember only to well what it means to everyone involved.
This week I received an email from David Wilson wishing the boys luck for the Leicester game. He also talked about the injustice of the 2001 final against Newcastle Falcons, and how it was time we 'corrected the ledger' for the injustice of that game. If we are to do that for David, and for all of our supporters, then firstly we must put in our best performance of the season against Leicester this weekend.
Look forward to seeing you all at the Stoop on Saturday.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.