After nearly ten weeks work, I am delighted that we have been able to announce earlier today the signing of the Fijian centre Viliame (Bill) Satala on a two-year contract. Bill is representing Fiji in the Commonwealth Games this weekend and will then join us at Aldershot early next week.
Voted the outstanding centre of the 1999 World Cup, Bill will be a valuable addition to our squad, playing alongside Will Greenwood, Chris Bell and Nick Greenstock. Having played in Europe for the last two years at Mont de Marsan, Bill should be able to settle into his new environment very quickly.
With this signing now complete, our squad for the new season is now in place and we are just over a week away from our first pre-season friendly away to Glasgow on Friday 9th August, kick-off 7.30pm at Hughenden, Glasgow.
We are a long way from being fully prepared for the opening league game of the season against Gloucester on 31st August, but the fixtures against Glasgow, Beziers and Newport 2nd XV, will give us ample opportunity to work on all aspects of our game plan prior to the opening league match.
With the completion of the Satala deal, Quins will now have four players taking part in the Commonwealth Games Sevens tournament; Satala for Fiji, along with Ben Gollings, Pat Sanderson and Nick Duncombe all representing England. We wish them all the very best for the competition and, even though I have said it before, we look forward to seeing them all back at the training ground in one piece!
Last weekend we were all shocked to hear that John Kingston had been taken into hospital to have a blood clot removed from his brain. Having been rushed into hospital on Friday, John underwent an operation which took over five hours on Saturday afternoon. I am delighted to confirm that the operation was successful and that John has come through well. Yesterday he was up and about walking around the hospital. Although it will still be a few days before the Doctors will be able to confirm that John has suffered no ill effects from the surgery, the signs are very good. On behalf of all the players and staff at NEC Harlequins, I would like to wish John a full and speedy recovery and both he and his wife Sarah all the very best during this difficult and traumatic time.
With the pre-season games upon us, we will now be concentrating on the set-piece elements of play in our training sessions, while continuing with the skill developments that we have been working on over the last ten weeks.
This time next week we will be on our way to Glasgow for the first game in a very long season. However, our preparations are being geared towards the 31st August and Gloucester at the Stoop, and the Glasgow game is just part of the month long training / practice for that game.
I hope you all have a great weekend and look forward to speaking to you next week.
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.