It has been a busy time since our last Zurich Premiership game against Northampton Saints two weeks ago.
Those of you who saw our Springbok Bar Challenge game against Natal Sharks on Tuesday evening will have seen the return of the Samoan international Ace Tiatia at hooker. Ace has been signed (again) until the end of the current season to help us out of yet another hooker crisis.
With Keith Wood still struggling with his calf injury, which has been in a removable plaster cast for the last week, and Tani Fuga still struggling with his rib injury and not fit for this weekends game against Bath, clearly we needed to bring some reinforcements in and Ace, having been here before, was the obvious choice. The fact that he is classed as a foreign player does cause us some issues but we all know that Ace will do a job for us when asked, starting at the Recreation Ground on Saturday afternoon.
In addition to Ace, we have also signed the Fijian international full back Norman Ligairi, also on a contract until the end of this season. Norman is an exciting prospect, who plays international rugby for Fiji both in 7's and 15's. Once he completes his 7's contract with Fiji in Wellington this weekend, Norman will arrive in the UK on Tuesday morning.
Returning to Tuesday night, the only injury we picked up was Mark Mapletoft who damaged his ribs in scoring his second half try. Although there were plenty of knocks and bruises, particularly after the intensity of the first half performance, everyone who took the field came through and trained on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for this Saturday's clash with Bath.
On the injury front, as I said last week we are making some progress. Roy Winters, Nick Burrows and Will Greenwood return to the team this weekend. Keith Wood is improving, albeit slowly, from his calf injury and might be available for the game against Gloucester in a fortnights time. Dan Luger's hamstring injury is clearly worse than first thought and he is also not likely to play before Gloucester on 23rd February. Pat Sanderson is making good progress from the knee injury he suffered playing for England 7's in Durban, and he too hopes to be available for the Gloucester game.
There has been some nonsense written this week with regards to David Wilson retiring from rugby. I can confirm that at this stage nothing is further from David's mind. He remains positive that he will be fit to return to action for next season and we are looking forward to seeing him back in the UK in the near future.
The team will travel to Bath on Friday afternoon on the back of four good performances against Bridgend, Leicester, Northampton and the Natal Sharks. We know that it will be a difficult game at the Rec. - all away games are - but our performances since returning from Munster mean that the confidence levels within the group have grown. It does not need saying (but I will anyway) just how important Saturday's game is, but I am sure that the team will put in a performance that we will all be proud of whatever the outcome.
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.