A Happy New Year to all NEC Harlequins supporters.
No one is pretending that our defensive performance against London Wasps last Sunday was acceptable. We let in three soft tries and if you do that in the Zurich Premiership against a side of Wasps quality then you are going to lose.
Following the weekend's games, the bottom six teams in the Premiership are extremely close with just seven points covering these clubs and just two points covering the bottom four. All six clubs are now going to be in a dogfight until the end of the season and we have to concentrate on improving our own performances in the nine remaining league fixtures that we face.
We need to improve on our defensive organisation as a number of players came off our systems at the weekend and this cost the team dearly, and we need to cut out the individual errors that we are making. In addition, we need to play with the confidence that we gained earlier in the season starting at Gloucester working its way through to the victories over Saracens, Sale and Leeds Tykes.
You know that we will not criticize individuals publicly. The coaching staff went through the video on Tuesday with the entire squad and individuals saw the errors that they made and discussed what they should have done. On the training field, the players and coaches have practiced these very same systems and we now have to ensure, as we have seen on many occasions this season, that we follow our defensive patterns. It should be remembered that prior to Sunday we had taken 15 points from our last four Premiership games, and had conceded just seven tries in our last six matches.
This weekend we travel to France to take on Castres in the Heineken Cup. Although we can't qualify from the group both this and the Munster game are important to us as we look to prepare for the remaining Premiership fixtures this season.
We have made seven changes to the starting 15, mostly in the forwards, but there were a number of players unavailable due to injury, including Mike Worsley, Maurice Fitz Gerald, James Hayter, Tani Fuga, Geo Cronje, Roy Winters, Andre Vos, Jim Evans, Adrian Jarvis, Will Greenwood and Ugo Monye - quite an impressive list!
Next Wednesday (12th January) the Second XV return to action here at Aldershot when they face The Army in their first game for nearly a month. It will be a young team that takes the field, but one that we hope some of you will come down to Aldershot to support. Kick-off will be at 7.30pm. (Please note that this game was originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday 11th January).
No doubt I will be accused of 'repeating' myself or writing 'platitudes,' but nevertheless I can assure you that everyone, players, coaches and back room staff alike, are both determined and confident that we will turn this disappointing season around. It will require a lot of hard work and dedication, but it will happen.
We need to start putting in some good performances as we did back in October and November, as there are some massive games coming up in the next three months; we all know that.
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.