Harlequins 2018-19 Season

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Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Thu 05 Jul 2018, 2:24 pm

Harlequins

New Head of Rugby in Paul Gustard
Other coaches -
Billy Millard (general manager)
Mark Mapletoft (Head Coach)
Alex Codling (forwards coach)
Nick Easter (?)
Colin Osbourne (skills coach)
Nick Evans (Attacks coach)
Adam Jones (Ass. forwards coach)


Ins: Nick Auterac (Bath), Max Crumpton (Bristol Bears), Alex Dombrandt (Cardiff Met), Nathan Earle (Saracens), Matt Symons (Wasps) and Ben Tapuai (Bath).

Outs: Sam Aspland-Robinson (Leicester Tigers), Cameron Holenstein (Jersey Reds), Adam Jones (retired), Charlie Matthews (Wasps), Jamie Roberts (Bath), Harry Sloan (Ealing Trailfinders) and Winston Stanley (retired). Rowntree (wasps), Joe Grey, Sam Twomey

What's the general feeling about the upcoming season?
New boss coming in that will want to shake things up a bit, but still with a large contingent of the old coaching team in place.  Only Kingston and Rowntree moving on.  
Does anyone know what Easters coaching role will be?

New signatures aren't awe inspiring -
Auterac was billed as an incredibly powerful young prop, but had a lot of problems with injury and struggled to get into the Bath starting line up - I have been told by a Bath supporter that he was picked when fit.
Crumpton I don't know much about, same goes for Dombrandt - feeling is that they may be squad fillers and mostly play A-league (happy to be proved wrong)
Earl looks to be a good talent, and adept at covering 15 and wing - will hopefully work well with Charlie walker, Visser, and young Ibitoye
Symons was massively hyped when he came back to the UK, just not kicked on for Wasps - presumably looking for a fresh start.  Quins really need a decent lump in the engine room to complement Horwell and Merrick.
Tapuai  - A ball playing centre, good hands and feet.  No idea what he is like defensively.  I cant help feeling that in the past Quins have been better with someone in the middle to carry the ball hard (which is why Sloan leaving is a bit of a blow).  Tapuai, Marchant, Saili all feels a little 'lightweight' for me. (especially if Marcus Smith is starting 10)

2018/19 Harlequins Squad
Hookers -
Rob Buchanan
Max Crumpton
Elia Elia
Dave Ward

Props -
Nick Auterac
Lewis Boyce
Will Collier
Mark Lambert
Joe Marler
Josh McNulty
Kyle Sinckler
Phil Swainston

Locks -
Alex Dombrandt
Ben Glynn
James Horwill
George Merrick
Stan South
Matt Symons

Flanks -
Renaldo Bothma
James Chisholm
Chris Robshaw
Luke Wallace

No.8 -
Jack Clifford
Mat Luamanu

No.9 -
Danny Care
Dave Lewis
Charlie Mulchrone

Fly-Half -
Demetri Catrakilis
James Lang
Marcus Smith
Tim Swiel

Centre -
Joe Marchant
Francis Saili
Ben Tapuai

Wings -
Alofa Alofa
Henry Cheeseman
Nathan Earle
Jonas Mikalcius
Tim Visser
Charlie Walker

15 -
Mike Brown
Ross Chisholm
Aaron Morris


Last edited by propdavid_london on Wed 11 Jul 2018, 2:21 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by yappysnap on Fri 06 Jul 2018, 2:01 am

I don't really know what to expect from next season. Don't want to get my hopes up!!

I'd like us to finish top 7 and be competitive, and make the play offs in Europe.

Better attack and actual defense would be good too.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Fri 06 Jul 2018, 9:03 am

I would be good if we could keep the majority of the squad fit for a decent amount of time!
We could assess if Catrakilis is worth persevering with!
Ronaldo Bothma looked very good before injury.
Same with Saili (when he was on the pitch)
Sinkler, Robshaw and Brown could do with a decent rest period.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by yappysnap on Sat 07 Jul 2018, 4:17 am

Agree with all that. Imagining a team of

Marker, Ellis, Synkler
Horwill, Merrick?
Robshaw (fully fit), Wallace, Bothma
Care, Smith
Walker, Saili, ?, Visser, Brown

That's pretty damn impressive! Need to find cover for Care though

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by Poorfour on Sat 07 Jul 2018, 6:16 am

Some interesting chat from the Quinssa pre-season dinner.

They’ve split the DoR and General Manager roles so that the DoR can have a total focus on getting the best 23 players out on the pitch each week. There was a lot of praise for what Billy Millard is doing in the GM role and how much the tone has changed through him and Gustard in pre-season.

One big focus has been on getting the players to spend time together and have fun away from the pitch so that they build up more trust and willingness to work for each other - it was commented that last year they didn’t seem to have that connection. Which said, someone else pointed out that the senior players who were meant to bring that spent most of the year injured - as an example Archie White (still an academy player) played 20 matches last year, which was not what they had planned for him (or for Marcus Smith).

The rationale around the choice of centres was explained to us by comparison with Sarries. They can have Barritt (a classic defensive / crash ball guy but not a creator in attack) at 12 because Alex Goode brings the creativity and distribution from fullback. Mike Brown isn’t that sort of fullback, so Quins want to have ball-playing ability at 12, which Saili, Tapuai and Lang all bring. That was part of a wider conversation about getting combinations of players across the pitch.

Catrakilis and Bothma both reported as fully fit and ready to go (as are some of the other long term injuries - Horwill, Collier), with Saili in full training but they are taking it cautiously because it’s a concussion.

Gustard is likely to want to reshape the squad over the season by trading quantity for quality. So we should expect to see a few big signings and a number of “club” players leaving, with the burden put on the academy to step up as necessary.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by Welly on Sat 07 Jul 2018, 1:29 pm

Interesting coaching team
Gustard -- Very highly rated defence coach BUT Never had a Head coach role
Codling -- Head Coach of a very impressive Ealing team BUT has never coached a top tier team before closest being Ulster's Academy/Development coach.
Mapletoft -- Very experianced 8 years at Quins BUT was a top coach in Harlequins "downfall period".
Evans + Easter --- Both massive club legends but new to the coaching side of things.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by formerly known as Sam on Sat 07 Jul 2018, 6:55 pm

Gustard's biggest challenge may be getting Robshaw to remember how to tackle.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by yappysnap on Sun 08 Jul 2018, 12:31 am

Haha, I think Robshaw will be fine after a bit of a break. Might be coming towards the end too maybe, some players go out quicker then others and his style relies all on fitness.

I did think Easter had left but am probably wrong. He's been the biggest let down of the coaching team and I'd be surprised if he stayed past this season.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Mon 09 Jul 2018, 12:36 pm

Easter I think is still in place - at least for the season. Presumably to see how things work out.

Robshaw will be back to himself, same with the other England contingent - assuming they get decent rest time.
I would expect Care to hit the ground running for the opening game of the season.

Long term do you thing we will see Robshaw moving into the 2nd Row - Like the Easter experiment?

Just having options in the backrow makes me feel better about next season!
Ward is a great club player and great at the breakdown - but when he is starting in the back row I am usually very concerned.

But if we can have - Wallace, Robshaw, Loumanu, Botha, James Chis all fit for selection + academy kidz I will be a lot happier

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by LondonTiger on Mon 09 Jul 2018, 1:27 pm

propdavid_london wrote:But if we can have - Wallace, Robshaw, Loumanu, Botha, James Chis all fit for selection + academy kidz I will be a lot happier

And Clifford?

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Mon 09 Jul 2018, 1:54 pm

Ooops - knew that I forgot someone.
Decent competition will hopefully drive performance.
Clifford, like Botha - just needs a decent run of games.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Wed 11 Jul 2018, 2:08 pm

Colin Osbourne has now also left the coaching set up

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Wed 11 Jul 2018, 2:24 pm

Looking at that squad - we are very light on centres.
I know Alofa Alofa can cover - so too with Lang in the middle. But 1 long term injury here and we will struggle.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by yappysnap on Thu 12 Jul 2018, 8:22 am

Prop i definitely wouldn't want Robshaw at lock. To me he's there to play his usual game at 6 and when he finally can't do that anymore then I can't really see too many options for him, unless the rest of the backrow is still a mess, if that is the case then his experience and calm will be key.

Glad Osborne is gone, hopefully Mapletoft and Easter will have this season to improve or else they'll be gone too.

I guess we have Lang, Marchant, Walker and Alofa at a push.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Thu 12 Jul 2018, 9:57 am

All those options seem incredibly lightweight - I know those lads can get stuck in. But would prefer a more solid option in the squad too. Who is going to be that player coming in on an angle and committing defenders. Making space out wide.
Brown will truck it up like the best and Visser carries well into contact but I feel that we could do with someone running the defensive line in the midfield.
Like Barritt for Sarries or Joseph for Bath.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by yappysnap on Thu 12 Jul 2018, 10:35 pm

I guess we'll have to see how Marchant goes, he could do well as an organiser. And we do have that superstar Kiwi centre as well, I can't remember his name though!

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by yappysnap on Thu 12 Jul 2018, 10:37 pm

You'd think though with the small and young Marcus Smith at 10, they'd want a big 12 for him to ship ball too and to take pressure off him.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by Poorfour on Thu 12 Jul 2018, 10:45 pm

Tony Diprose said at the Quinssa pre-season dinner that they want to have creative players at 12, because they feel the need for a second ball player and the other place they could put one is fullback - but Mike Brown is an out-and-out fullback and not a converted 10 like Alex Goode.

We should get used to not having a crash ball centre, but I expect what they are looking to do is to use Smith's distribution to change the point of attack and have someone there who can capitalise.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by propdavid_london on Fri 13 Jul 2018, 1:07 pm

Cant help feeling that we will get bullied without some hard carrying backs.
The focus will have to be on an extremely mobile back row to pick up the slack - problem there is if we focus on mobility to cover across then we will be lacking back row ball carriers too.
We have the speedy back rowers - Clifford, Wallace and Chisholm
Botha, Chisholm and Loumanu offer carrying from 8 I suppose.

Perhaps I am old fashioned - I cant get away from the fact Rugby is a physical game - and you need a good few Orc's in a side to dish it out as much as the opposition can.

We've seen that England can be a bit toothless without Billy V churning through the hard yards and a guy like Teo to commit the defences.

Thanks for the inside knowledge Poorfour - Lets see how that turns out - plenty of new combinations and patterns will be tried out in pre-season I guess.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 13 Jul 2018, 7:20 pm

Saili and Tapui are both powerful runners and skillful enough to operate as a secondary playmakers. One of those at 12 and then Marchant at 13?

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by Poorfour on Fri 13 Jul 2018, 8:04 pm

formerly known as Sam wrote:Saili and Tapui are both powerful runners and skillful enough to operate as a secondary playmakers. One of those at 12 and then Marchant at 13?

I think that's the plan. My view of rugby - what I coach my U14s - is that it's about commitment. The aim as an attacker is to force the defence to commit to defending one thing while you have the option to counter that in some way; the aim as a defender is to keep your options open until the attacker is committed to a course of action.

A player like Billy, or a fully fit Manu or JTH, makes this very simple: you know what they are going to do, but their counter is that they are very hard to stop. That said, a smart enough defender can nullify that. I can't ever remember Manu getting the better of George Lowe for instance - though Lowe did get past Manu a couple of times through his ability to pick an unexpected angle and slide through a gap.

But a player with less raw power can be just as effective if they can add skills that enable them force the defence to keep their options open.

BOD and Greenwood were extreme examples of this: because they had so many passing or kicking options available to them, a defence couldn't fully commit to tackling them as early as they could with Billy, and that gave them more chances to find a way over the gainline. Nonu eventually had both strings to his bow, which is what made him so effective.

At the other extreme, Easter at his peak was short of Billy's power, but his game awareness and offloading made him able to put other players through. How many tries did we see from Easter drawing his men and flipping the ball to Care?

I think the hope with Roberts was that he could broaden his game to be more Nonu-like, but it didn't quite work out. Hopefully Saili and Tapuai will add that combination of enough power plus the skills to amke it count for more.

We also have another option we haven't discussed yet: Sinckler has all the handling skills of the back he once was, plus enough venom in his carries to trouble most defences. Many of my favourite moments from last year were when Smith got the opposition defence moving one way only for him to pop it to Kyle coming in on the reverse. It won't always work, but it's a great way to get go forward.


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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by formerly known as Sam on Fri 13 Jul 2018, 8:19 pm

Sinckler will be wanting to prove a point after a poor tour of SA as well get people talking about his Lions form again instead.

Be interesting to see how Quins set up next season. I can't see Gustard playing as expansive a game as Quins have been used to in the last few years.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

Post by yappysnap on Sat 14 Jul 2018, 3:42 am

Yea I do think we went a bit too expensive

Our best seasons kept the ball very tight a lot of the time with lots of little pop passes before and offloads in contact. It almost became attritional, we believed we could keep the attack alive longer then the defense could keep defenders in that space, and when it worked we were almost unstoppable.

Now we sit deep and pass very wide, which just doesnt seem to work so well, we end up running out of space and don't trouble the defense, I don't think the players ever believed in this style.

I hope Gustard will get us playing like we played against Sarries ironically. Looking for a fight, looking to be confrontational, and keeping things straight forward and aggressive, then pouncing on any points that come our way.

That'll suit Marler and Sinks and co.

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Re: Harlequins 2018-19 Season

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