Premiership Preview: Harlequins
Last Season: 8th
Top Tryscorer: Marland Yarde (9)
Top Pointscorer: Nick Evans (162).
Last season was a major disappointment for Quins fans. After a title-winning year in 2012, a stuttering start ended their chances of any league success before their European Rugby was brought to a halt. Following a semi-final berth and an LV=Cup success 18 months ago, the side looked almost unrecognisable from their trophy-laden years in 2014/15 and significant improvements will be needed to ensure they don’t fall too far from the game’s elite this year.
The Coach: John Kingston
One of the lesser-known names in Premiership rugby, Kingston spearheads a modest but hard working set of coaching staff. After a nomadic playing career, he eventually found himself at ‘Quins in 2001, where he has remained ever since. With 15 years of experience at the club to call upon, there are few in the game who know the London outfit as well as the former Rosslyn Park man. But, despite having a capable set of players to work with, it could be another year of mediocrity for his side.
Key Man: Nick Evans
At 35 years old, Evans is one of the most experienced operators in the Premiership, but the former All Black remains crucial to the Quins cause. After racking up close to 2,000 points for his side since arriving in 2008, the diminutive fly-half no longer has the pace of his younger peers, but his reading of the game and ‘rugby brain’ remain as sharp as ever, and will be a major part of any success Quins are to achieve this year.
Prediction: 8th, same as last year.
In an ever-improving league, Quins have slipped firmly amongst the chasing pack, and that is unlikely to change this year. With the likes of Danny Care, Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown still reeling from a hugely disappointing World Cup campaign, their star men could take time to return to the top of their game with both emotional and physical stresses to overcome. That could force a slow start for the London side and could scupper any chances of a top six finish. Odds for Title: 16/1.