You will be aware that since I last spoke we have announced the arrival of Andy Friend, who joins our coaching team alongside Dean Richards and John Kingston. Andy has a tremendous track record having worked with the Australian Under 21 side that recently lost to South Africa in the Under 21 World Cup Final, as well as spending nearly three years with the Waratahs in the Super 12 competition.
Just before I went on leave, Karl Rudzki advised us that he had decided he did not want to remain at NEC Harlequins and that he had received an offer to join French side Pau. Following on from this, we have signed former London Irish and London Welsh second row Kevin Burke on a one-year contract.
Kevin is 25 years of age, born in Wales, and is six foot, six inches tall and weighs in at over 19 stone. We are still looking to recruit one or two additional players, but only if the right players become available.
Yesterday I had my first look around the new Lexus stand; a guided tour given by our Chief Executive. I have to say it is a very impressive building. The facilities for players and supporters alike are going to be fantastic, and I know that we are all very excited at the prospect of playing our first competitive game at the Stoop on Saturday 17th September against Newbury.
We are now into the second part of our pre-season training, as from last Monday we started the rugby practice in earnest. This is also the first week back in training for the likes of Gavin Duffy, Ugo Monye and Aston Croall, who were all away on international duty in the early part of the summer.
Andrew Mehrtens arrives in the country next week and he, along with Will Greenwood, will join the rest of the squad at the training ground on Monday 1st August, when we go into the final phase of our pre-season training, including our three pre-season matches against London Irish (12th August), Bristol (20th August) and Saracens (26th August).
In preparation for the start of the National Division One season, next week I will be traveling up to Pertemp Bees and Otley to take a look at their grounds as well as the local hotels that we will be using prior to these games.
I hope you are all having a great summer and I look forward to speaking to you all again next week.
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.