This weekend sees us take-on one of the toughest challenges in Northern Hemisphere rugby. Leicester Tigers are quite simply the best there is at the present time. They may have lost to Llanelli in the Heineken Cup last weekend, but they still have a home quarterfinal and remain favourites to win the competition for the second year running.
And make no mistake, despite defeating us in the Premiership just prior to Christmas, there is little chance of Dean Richards sending his team to the Stoop anything less that 100% ready for battle, particularly after our win in last years Tetley's Bitter Cup semi-final.
Anyone who was at the Stoop on 22nd December last year will have seen one of the most complete performances by a club side in years. Leicester that day were at there best and while no-one wants to lose, in hindsight it was almost a pleasure to have been able to watch such a performance.
That said, we are going into this weekend's Powergen Cup quarterfinal in the knowledge that we can beat Leicester if, and it is a big if, we perform to the very best of our ability.
Clearly our position in the Zurich Premiership is far from satisfactory and we now must start getting results in the League to move us up the table. The game against Northampton next weekend is crucial in that respect, and a good performance against Leicester this weekend will go along way to helping us with the Northampton game.
Off the field, the senior players and coaching staff have spent a huge amount of time looking at the areas where we need to improve. Much discussion has taken place in respect to our training and preparation for matches, the tactics and style of play, and hopefully we will see the benefits of this on the pitch in the very near future.
As everyone knows, we have a number of players unavailable due to injury at the present time; the list includes Keith Wood, Dan Luger, Pat Sanderson, Roy Winters, Nick Greenstock, Jon Dawson, Alex Codling, James Hayter and Jim Evans. Having said that, we are all delighted to see Tani Fuga back fit and raring to go this Saturday.
The win last Saturday against Bridgend in the final group game of the Heineken Cup has given everyone, players and supporters alike, a much needed boost. All the players and Management team genuinely appreciate the tremendous support the team has received this season at the Stoop as well as at all the away games. It is disappointing that your efforts have not been reflected with improved results on the pitch.
On the player front, congratulations to Steve White-Cooper and in particular Nick Duncombe who were both selected for the England A training squad. Nick, who made is debut against Munster only two weeks ago, has progressed along way since breaking his neck 18 months ago. On Saturday he will make his first start at the Stoop in what we all hope will be a long and successful career.
Saturday will be a huge challenge for everyone involved. However, it is a challenge that we look forward to with relish. There is no better way of testing yourself than to do so against the very best.
Look forward to seeing you all at the Stoop on Saturday for what should be another cracking game in front of a full house.
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.