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Fan column: Disappointment for Harlequins, but excitement is brewing at the Stoop

In the latest instalment of the new Rugby Nause News fan column series, writer George Wellbelove makes the point Harlequins fans should be excited moving into the new campaign.

Fan column: Disappointment for Quins, but excitement is brewing at the Stoop

At one point this season, Harlequins looked set to take a huge step forward. Level on points with Bristol for the final playoff spot and an upcoming Champions Cup semi-final against Toulouse, the Londoners were on top of the world. Fast forward three weeks, Quins’ season ended on a somewhat sour note.

Finishing off with no silverware and no place in the semi-finals of the Premiership, Harlequins will have been hoping for more. But, with the emergence of new talent and some incredible rugby being played, the league’s ‘great entertainers’ have created a campaign to remember.

Starting with a controversial loss to Gloucester on opening day, it was starting to look like it would be one of those seasons for the Twickenham-based side. Historically, Harlequins have dropped off in form after achieving some sort of success. Since their first Premiership triumph in 2012, they only finished in the top four three times over nine years.

However, four wins on the bounce following the defeat proved Harlequins’ credentials as being a dangerous team this season. In six months, Harlequins were in their first-ever Champions Cup semi-final and had a chance of challenging for their third Premiership title.

Success in different forms for Harlequins

Harlequins star Chandler Cunningham-South-Credit: IMAGO

Whilst it did not work out, Quins have plenty to be proud of this season. From dazzling tries and an ability to never give up, Quins have gained a lot.

Marcus Smith appears to be back to his mercurial self and Will Evans has excelled, as shown by winning Harlequins’ Players Player and Player of the Season. Tyrone Green has been a mainstay at full-back, with his sheer pace and stepping ability.

Chandler Cunningham-South has been extraordinary with his barnstorming running and aggressive tackling. After only signing a short term contract since his beloved London Irish succumbed to financial issues, a new and improved contract simply has to be offered to him to secure his services for many more years.

The rise of Fin Baxter has been nothing short of sensational. He has been an integral part to the side all season and has even managed to force England stalwart Joe Marler to the bench on some occasions.

Now, Baxter gets his chance on the biggest stage of them all: an England debut on tour to New Zealand.

Changes for next season

Harlequins centre Will Joseph in action-Credit: IMAGO

Quins are losing one of their main ball carriers for next season. Inside centre Andre Esterhuizen has been sensational during his time in the quarters and is departing back to South Africa. This leaves a sizeable void in Quins’ backline and it will be interesting to see how they fill it.

With no further signings expected before the start of the season, it appears likely that Luke Northmore will be in the 12 shirt. Whilst Northmore is not as large or powerful as Esterhuizen, he is an adept player and has the ability to redefine how inside centre’s play.

The return of Will Joseph from injury could also mean he spends time in the 12 shirt too.

Also, the incoming move of Titi Lamositele from Montpellier is an exciting transfer. Lamositele is a huge player who will add lots of power to the front row. As a former Saracens prop, he adds vast experience of being in title winning sides.

At Saracens, he won three Premiership titles and three Champions Cup trophies. He added to this tally at Montpellier, with triumphs in the Challenge Cup and Top 14 respectively.

Time for Harlequins to build consistency

Harlequins celebrate victory over Bordeaux-Credit: IMAGO

Harlequins did have a couple of periods during the season where they looked unbeatable. During the early stages of the season, they were able to break down teams with ease, most notably shown by their 36-3 win versus Sale Sharks.

Additionally, a tremendous Champions Cup campaign, before a heartbreaking semi-final loss to Toulouse, showcased their talents against larger teams.

However, as it seems to be the case in most seasons, Quins have had a few slip-ups. Big losses to Saracens, Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears ultimately cost them a play off spot in the Premiership.

With the Premiership last season being incredibly competitive, a narrow loss would not have been a season-ending result. But with each of the aforementioned teams scoring over fifty points, it was sadly inevitable that Quins would be left without a place in the semi-finals.

Next season’s main aim has to be creating consistency in results. Whilst attacking play has always been the priority at Quins, defence has been lacklustre and poor. With the arrival of Jason Gilmore as the new defence coach, this should now improve.

As the majority of players are staying at Quins this season, consistency can be found. The great entertainers of English rugby can push on to become strong contenders for silverware each year and it will be interesting to see how they can achieve it.

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