With the announcement of the signing of Argentinean prop Pablo Cardinalli earlier this week, we now only have one further signing to confirm before the start of the new season on 31st August 2002.
I had hoped that we would be able to make that announcement today. Unfortunately, I am still waiting for one piece of paper to be signed by all parties concerned in this deal. This paper is currently winging its way halfway around the globe and back again! The players contract is signed, but this has been a very complicated deal to finalise for legal reasons and has taken nearly eight weeks to complete. Hopefully once all parties have signed this paper, the matter will be brought to a swift conclusion!
When Mark Evans and I met Pablo Cardinalli and his representatives on the day of the England Vs Barbarians game at the end of May, he could not speak a word of English - indeed he had an interpreter with him. When I picked Pablo up at Heathrow Airport yesterday morning, he was fluent in English. We had a long conversation as we sat in the traffic jams on the M3, as people travelled to the Farnborough air show. This speaks volumes for the man and shows a good attitude. A willingness to learn and to make the best of the opportunity he has earned for himself. Pablo toured New Zealand with Argentina last year and is on the fringe of the Argentinean squad; hopefully with the opportunities he will get with NEC Harlequins, we can help push him that bit closer to international selection.
On the injury front, we had a bad day for a couple of our younger players last Friday. Alex Mockford dislocated his shoulder falling to the ground in a tackling drill and Sam Walton badly damaged ankle ligaments in a non-contact running session. Alex will need an operation on his shoulder, while Sam will be out of action for some eight to ten weeks which is very disappointing for both of them. We wish them both a speedy recovery.
Dan Luger continues to progress well following the knee injury he suffered back in March while playing 7's for England. He is working hard both with our own and the England fitness teams and is well on course to be back in action by January 2003.
Congratulations are in order for Pat Sanderson, Ben Gollings and Nick Duncombe, all of whom will be representing the England Sevens team in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. The Sevens competition takes place from 2nd to 4th August and we wish them all the very best in their quest for the gold medal - but please come back in one piece!
Last Monday the squad got together at the Oatlands Park Hotel for a full day involving the agreeing of team values and group standards by which we would operate throughout the 2002/2003 season. Everyone was involved from season internationals such as Jason Leonard, Keith Wood and Will Greenwood to the newest full time academy players such as Chris Cracknell, Tom Guest and Jim Rowley. It was a very productive day, standards were set and there was a great deal of lively debate between all areas of the playing side - hopefully this will be of benefit to us as the season progresses.
I hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy watching the Commonwealth Games.
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.