Yesterday saw the arrival of Samoan and Pacific Island Warriors scrum half Steven So'oialo at Heathrow airport with his family, as he joins up with the rest of the NEC Harlequins squad in pre-season training.
Steve has had a busy 'summer' having played in three tests for Manu Samoa and been involved in all three Pacific Island Warriors tests against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Following the South Africa test he has had one week at home in Wellington with his family before they all got on the plane and arrived at Heathrow at 11.00am yesterday morning.
Initially, Steve and his family will be living close to the training ground, until they get themselves acquainted with the area and find something that suits them. Arriving well into pre-season training as Steve has means he has a lot of catching up to do in terms of our training and in understanding our game plan for the new season ahead.
This week has also seen us increase our rugby practice as we move ahead in our preparations towards the opening Zurich Premiership game of the season against London Irish on Saturday 4th September in the London Double Header at Twickenham.
In addition to Steve, in the last week we have also seen the arrival at training of Mike Worsley, Andy Reay and Adrian Jarvis following their efforts with their respective England teams over the summer, while Henry Barratt, who has been on a player development course in New Zealand, will be back with us next week.
It is now only two weeks before our first pre-season game against Bedford at Goldington Road on Wednesday 11th August, either side of which are the Compass International Sevens taking place at the Stoop (6th and 7th August) and the Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham (14th August), at both of which we will have a squad entered.
On the staffing front, congratulations are in order to Cameron Steele who has been appointed the Physio of the Irish national squad with effect from 1st September. Cameron has been with NEC Harlequins for the last four years and has worked tirelessly in, at times, a never ending battle to get players fit and back on the pitch. We all wish Cameron and his family well with their new challenge and thank him for his efforts here at NEC Harlequins.
Steph Brennan, who has worked with Cameron for the last nine months and was previously involved with our Under 21 squad, will take over as our number one Physio and a replacement number two will be appointed in due course.
There is still much planning and organisation going on in the background as we work towards Saturday 4th September. As you know we are still in the market for up to two additional players to join the squad over the coming weeks, but these will not be finalised until we find the right players for the squad.
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.