It has been an exciting week at the training ground with the arrival of several new players Laurent Gomez, Nathan Williams and Simon Miall, as well as youngsters Tom Hammond, Sam Walton and Andrew Reay.
While there are still two further new arrivals to be announced (as soon as all the paperwork has been completed) I thought it would be a good idea to update you all on the movements within the squad:
New additions to the squad are:
Laurent Gomez (Prop)
Nathan Williams (Full Back)
Simon Miall (Second Row)
Andre Vos (Back Row)(Arriving October 2002)
Jon Hammond (Full Back)
Kai Horstmann (No. 8)
Andrew Reay (Centre)
Sam Walton (Prop)
Max Wilcox (Wing / Full Back)
Tom Williams (Full Back / Fly Half)
Players that have left the squad following the end of last season are:
Steve White-Cooper (Retired)
David Wilson (Retired)
We can now confirm our pre-season fixtures as;
Friday 9th August 2002 Vs Glasgow (Away)
Wednesday 14th August 2002 Vs Beziers (Away)
In addition there will also be a Second XV game at the Stoop, likely to be the morning of Saturday 17th August. With the Middlesex Sevens also taking place on this date, there should be ample opportunity for everyone in the squad to get some match practice prior to our first Zurich Premiership game against Gloucester on Saturday 31st August at the Stoop. You can get tickets for the Middlesex Sevens through the club which should ensure a high level of support for the team on the day.
Not all the squad are back at Aldershot yet. Keith Wood returns on 18th July, fresh from his break after Ireland's summer tour of New Zealand. Jason Leonard should be back in full training within two weeks following his ankle injury and Pat Sanderson, Ben Gollings and Nick Duncombe are all involved in Englands preparations for the Commonwealth Games 7's tournament.
On the training front, a huge amount of time is being spent concentrating on contact and passing skills, i.e. looking after the ball. These are areas that the coaching staff have identified for improvement from last season and already the players are responding positively to these sessions. We will start to work on set-piece areas of the game such as scrums, lineouts, re-starts and defence in August and will use the pre-season games as an opportunity to practice new ideas and develop strategies born on the practice ground.
There are eight weeks to go before the start of the new season and a lot of work needs to be done during that time. But we have the coaching staff, players and structures in place, and I know that everyone is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
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.