This weekend we return to action on the field with a bang. We start tomorrow evening (Friday 12th August) with our first pre-season game against London Irish at the Twickenham Stoop, kick-off 7.45pm. Then on Saturday (13th August) we have a strong squad taking part in the Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham.
For Friday's match against London Irish, we have selected a squad of 25 players, all of whom will take some part in the action. We have agreed with London Irish and referee Chris White that the match will be played over three 30 minute periods, which should allow all the players plenty of game time.
At various times during the game there will be NEC Harlequins debuts for Jimmy Richards, Ricky Nebbett (admittedly a second debut), Aston Croall, Kevin Burke, Pablo Bouza, Ian Vass and Andrew Mehrtens, while there will also be opportunities for Academy players such as Mike Brown, Kiba Richards, Tosh Masson, James Inglis, George Robson and Darren Clayton to impress the coaching staff.
On Saturday at Twickenham we have a strong squad of ten players led by Ugo Monye, who will begin their challenge to win the Compass Group Middlesex Sevens against Blackheath at midday. Alongside Ugo will be Luke Sherriff, Jim Evans, Tom Guest, Chris Robshaw, Steve So'oialo, Simon Keogh, Gavin Duffy, Charlie Amesbury and Tom Williams.
There are just two players in the senior squad who will not be in action this weekend; namely Mike Worsley and Tani Fuga. Both Mike and Tani are progressing well and should be back on the field before we start our National Division One league programme against the Pertemps Bees on Saturday 3rd September.
At the end of last week, the entire playing and management squad spent a couple of days 'Team Building' at the Royal Engineers Brompton Barracks in Chatham. Split into groups, everyone took part in a series of command tasks on the Thursday evening, which finished at around 2.00am, before being rudely awoken by smoke bombs and fire crackers going off at around 6.00am the following morning.
The group were later to be seen 'flying' around the Thames Estuary on SAS 'Razor' boats, before finishing with some drill bashing, an assault cause and rifle target shooting.
There is no doubt that all the players and coaching staff are looking forward to this weekend and to actually getting onto the playing field. It will be a great opportunity to see how good we are in putting into practice on the pitch what we have been practicing at Roehampton for the last few weeks.
As with all pre-season games the result is not that important, and with both teams fielding as many as 25 players it will be difficult at times to compare the two team's performances. However, it will give us a good indication on what we are doing well and what areas we still have to work on before 3rd September.
I hope many of you will be at the Stoop tomorrow evening and I look forward to seeing you all there.
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.