Last Saturday saw us pick up our third win of the season in a close fought and physical game against a strong London Irish side. It was good to win again, in front of a sell out crowd at the Stoop, but there are many more fierce games to come this season starting with Saracens on Sunday afternoon.
Following last Saturday's game the RFU Independent Citing Officer has called a hearing to investigate Ace Tiatia challenge on Nick Greenstock early in the second half. We will be defending Ace at the hearing, but will not be making any other comments on the matter until after the hearing. I would point out though, that Ace has missed just one game as a result of suspension in the two years he has been with NEC Harlequins, and that he has been found innocent of previous citings.
On Sunday we travel up to Vicarage Road to face Saracens in what is bound to be another physical encounter. Having played them in pre-season at the Stoop, we have already seen the change in style that Rod Kafer has introduced. In the second half of that pre-season game they caused us a lot of problems, and in players such as Kevin Sorrell, Ben Johnston, Kris Chesney, Simon Raiwalui, and Thomas Castaignede they have real quality.
Obviously, for a number of us at NEC Harlequins, returning to Vicarage Road brings back some memories of the time Mark Evans, Tony Copsey, Tony Diprose, Jon Dawson and myself all spent at Saracens, but professional sport is not very sentimental, which may explain why on our previous three visits with NEC Harlequins we have lost each time!
On the injury front, Simon Miall had an operation last Sunday morning at the Lister Hospital on his ruptured knee tendon and will be out for a minimum of six months. This will give Jim Evans an opportunity to stake his claim for the number five shirt. Roy Winters has also fully recovered from his ankle injury and will be on the bench this weekend. George Harder is continuing his re hab programme having come out of the knee brace this week and hopefully will be back in action by the end of this month at the latest.
Both Karl Rudzki and Chris Bell expect to be fit to play in our 2nd XV game against Northampton at the Stoop on the 27th October.
On other player issues, Bill Davison has been awarded a testimonial this year having served NEC Harlequins for over eight years. Bill is a stalwart of the club and will be holding just one event for his testimonial, a Six Nations Dinner on Thursday 7th April 2004 at The Brewery in Chiswell Street. Tickets for the event are available from Nicola Simpson on 0208 410 6048.
So to Sunday. I know that a number of you will be at Vicarage Road supporting the team, and we all look forward to hearing your support wherever you are in the ground.
During week commencing 22nd April Harlequins will launch an innovative, new Membership Scheme which will replace the existing Season Ticket Holder Programme. Further details of the scheme will be announced in due course.