This weekend we return to Heineken Cup action with the first of our back-to-back games against the Ospreys. If we are serious about progressing in the tournament then we will need points from both of these games before tackling Castres and Munster again in January.
Last Sunday (28th November) we got our third win on the bounce after a terrific second half performance against Leeds Tykes at the Stoop. We felt that throughout the game we played well when we had the ball in our hands, although perhaps we were a little short on work rate in the first half while Leeds had possession. However, in the second half this changed as the pack got well on top of their opposite numbers, while our half backs Steve So'oialo and Jeremy Staunton dictated the game.
It is no surprise that it has taken both these players a while to settle into a new environment, but over the last eight or nine weeks they have both played consistently well, as has the team on the whole. Jeremy's goal kicking now stands at an 80% success rate (second highest in the Zurich Premiership this season) and the try Steve scored showed the confidence he now has. He is also dictating the forwards and running the game as we would want him to.
With respect to the Zurich Premiership, at the halfway stage we are clearly disappointed to be in tenth position having won only three games. Having said that, I have been saying here for a while that since the Gloucester game back on 9th October we have been playing much better, but it was obviously important to start getting some positive results.
Our next three games in the Premiership will be vitally important, with those being Saracens away (26th December), London Wasps at the Stoop (2nd January) and then on 29th January Leicester away at Welford Road. Without setting specific targets, if we are to have any chance of qualifying for next season's Heineken Cup through the league then we will need to get some positive results from these games.
This weekend there will be a couple of changes on the bench, as Simon Maling is not registered in the squad for the group stages of the Heineken Cup and Ugo Monye is away with England in Dubai on sevens duty. In addition, Will Greenwood is available after returning from international duty.
The Ospreys have been doing very well in the Celtic League this season. They have a very strong squad which includes in the backs Stefan Terblanche, Sonny Parker, Shane Williams, Gavin Henson and Jason Spice, while in the forwards they have internationals such as Duncan Jones, Adam Jones, Barry Williams, Brent Cockbain, Jonathan Thomas and Ryan Jones.
We will travel down to Swansea on Saturday having completed our preparations at Aldershot in the morning. We know that we will face a very stern test; Wales versus England contests always are, but the squad is confident that if we continue to play with the intensity and skill level that we have shown in recent weeks then we will have every chance of putting in another good performance.
I hope that a number of you will be traveling to St Helens to give the team your support and I look forward to seeing you all in Swansea on Sunday afternoon.
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.