It has been a quiet week here at the training ground!
After the disappointment of coming away with just a draw against Castres last Saturday (30th October), it was up at 6.30am on Sunday morning to meet Simon Maling at Heathrow, who arrived on the early flight from Auckland. Having settled him in at his sisters flat in Maida Vale, we had the last minute organisation of a Second XV game away at Oxford University which was played on Monday evening (1st November).
Monday morning and a five hour journey from Aldershot to Maida Vale and back again (not a good day for a major accident on the A40!) to collect Simon for his introduction to his new team-mates and the complications of John Kingston's lineout systems. Later that day and having organised a rental car for Simon, it was off to Iffley Road, Oxford for what in truth was a disappointing performance by the Second XV. It was a very young side but we should and could have played a lot, lot better.
In addition, we have had to completely change our training schedule to take into account the Sale fixture, which is now being played (again!) on Friday 19th November, and the fact that the Second XV played on Monday evening. Now there are just the bank accounts, mobiles phones, national insurance numbers and a few press interviews for our two new lads to contend with, as they quickly learn to find their way around the streets of London and Hampshire.
Going back to last Saturday (briefly), there was a huge air of frustration amongst everyone involved with the team. Castres was a game we should have and deserved to win. Having said that, one of the qualities of the Heineken Cup is the fact that you play against opposition you do not know that well and officials who you do not know well.
This week we return to action in the Zurich Premiership when we travel to Wycombe where we face last season's champions London Wasps. For the first time in a long while we are able to name an unchanged starting XV, with Simon Maling starting on the bench along with Jon Dawson and James Hayter who are both back from injury.
On Monday evening (8th November), the Second XV will face Saracens at the Stoop in their first Zurich A League game since 4th October.
On the injury front, Ugo Monye and Maurice Fitz Gerald are progressing well and should both be back in action in the next few weeks. Jim Evans is working very hard on his pre-season shoulder injury, while Ace Tiatia has a small tear in his calf which will keep him out of action for a couple of weeks.
It has been a very busy week but we are confident it can end with a good performance tomorrow evening at the Causeway Stadium and a win against London Wasps. Wasps for the first time this season are close to fielding their full strength team, but if we continue to play in the way we have done in recent weeks then there is no reason to believe we cannot get that first win under our belt.
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.