Well, here we go - just two days before our opening game of the new Zurich Premiership season when we face London Irish in the London Double Header at Twickenham.
It would be untrue to say that our preparations have been ideal. Having to call off last week's final pre-season game against Saracens due to a mixture of injuries and illness was not part of our plans, and it has meant that a number of our players are short of some match practice. Fortunately, we have got over the virus that affected us with just Paul Pook our fitness coach going down with it this week, and a number of the short-term injuries have cleared up as we had expected.
However, the squad have worked well in training this week and I know the coaches are happy with all the work that they have been able to get through leading up to Saturday's opener.
There are a few players that we were not able to consider for selection due to injury, these being George Harder, Dafydd James, Joe Mbu, Maurice Fitz Gerald, Jim Evans and Tony Diprose, although George, Dafydd and Tony should be all be available in the next couple of weeks.
The unfortunate injury sustained by Jim Evans last Friday capped off what had not been a very good week, but as you all know we were delighted to be able to bring into the squad Opeta Palepoi within a few hours of Jim's injury. OP is a fine player, having been involved in 38 internationals for Samoa, and he will be a great addition to the NEC Harlequins squad once he settles into his new environment.
Following on from Mark Evans comments at the Season Ticket barbecue with regards to our further signings, we are still awaiting the final go ahead for one of these. All the papers have been signed in terms of the player's contract, but we are awaiting confirmation of the release date from his current position. These delays are frustrating but also part and parcel of contract negotiations.
Following Saturday's (4th September) opening Zurich Premiership game, on Monday evening (6th September) we travel to Saracens (Old Albanians) to start the defence of the Zurich A League won by our Second XV last season. It will be your first opportunity to see Opeta Palepoi in action along with academy player's Tom Muggridge, Mark Lambert, Duncan James and Mike Brown.
Back to Saturday and the London Double Header. London Irish will, as always, be very tough opposition. Although our record against them is good in recent years, there have been two draws and all the games have been very close. The opening game of the season is not normally a classic game of rugby but more a war of attrition as both teams get used to playing the physical confrontational rugby that is the hallmark of the Zurich Premiership.
There will be 50,000 people at Twickenham on Saturday, and if you have not got your tickets already they will be available on the day at the stadium, so come along and support Quins!
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.