Damage limitation not in Harlequins' thoughts
David Llewellyn on a weekend that sees rugby union's Barbarians going to Cardiff
Barring some improbable results in the run-in, a place among the elite will be Quins for the taking and it looks as though they may have the services of Ireland's hooker, Keith Wood, and the Neath and Wales lock, Gareth Llewellyn, when they begin their European campaign. Wood yesterday discussed a move to The Stoop, despite the Irish authorities' recent deal designed to keep their top talent at home.
Llewellyn's move will be subject to Welsh Rugby Union approval. They have said they want assurances from Harlequins that he will be released for all international squad training sessions and Wales matches.
So it is no wonder that Harlequins, who have never beaten Bath in 11 league games, head west in upbeat mood. They are in second place two points behind Bath having scored 455 points, some 34 more than the leaders, and they are talking of winning. The ability has always been there, now there is added steel.
Their success has given the stand-off Paul Challinor a deal of personal satisfaction, because he had to start off in the third XV after missing pre-season training through injury. Oesteopathy sorted things out and when the first choice, David Pears, was struck down by his injury jinx Challinor took his chance. The 26-year-old, who has been accused of being a kicking stand-off in the past, says there is a change of outlook at The Stoop.
"There is confidence," he explains. "Last year I had to kick because it was about the only time we went forward in a match. This year it is different. Thanks to Gareth Allison we are winning a lot of line-out ball so I now have other options. We normally go to Bath with damage limitation in mind. This time we are going there believing we have a chance."
Quins are unchanged from last week which means Chris Sheasby returns from the Hong Kong Sevens - his club were unhappy about his appearance for England in the tournament - to the ignominy of the bench. Bath, in contrast, welcome back sevens men Jon Sleightholme and Adedayo Adebayo. Ben Clarke is on holiday so the Scotland international Eric Peters is recalled.
Leicester, in third place, are still without Dean Richards but they too find room for another Hong Kong Sevens man, Neil Back, for the critical home game against fourth-placed Wasps. The London side have lost Damian Hopley who damaged knee ligaments in Hong Kong and is out for the season, while stand-off Guy Gregory returns on the squad rota system in place of Chris Braithwaite.
London Irish need a victory over Bedford to secure promotion to the First Division while in Wales Cardiff send out a callow side against a Barbarians' XV which includes the former All Black John Gallagher and the veteran Rugby winger Eddie Saunders for a traditional fixture that is expected to attract a 15,000 crowd to the Arms Park. Most of Wales will be concentrating on the league where Neath travel to lowly Abertillery looking to extend their lead.
Latest in Sport
The Prince of Wales Stakes today is regarded by many as the No1 race of the Royal Ascot meeting and ...
by Gareth Purnell
19 June 2013 02:01 AM
Today’s St James Palace looks a cracker and there has been sustained money for Dawn Approach since t...
by Gareth Purnell
18 June 2013 02:01 AM
Newcastle don’t need a football director – they need a new medical team after finishing bottom of the injury league
Newcastle United have shocked their fans by appointing Joe Kinnear as director of football but new f...
by Alex Miller
17 June 2013 04:39 PM
ACT Brumbies v British and Irish Lions - player ratings
Liverpool close in on £6m Spanish winger Luis Alberto
In pictures: Royal Ascot 2013 - Opening day
Exclusive: Cristiano Ronaldo advised to stay at Real Madrid for further 18 months before making possible switch to Manchester United
Italy Under-21s 2 Spain Under-21s 4 match report: Thiago Alcantara's hat-trick seals European Championship for Spanish youngsters
- 1 Diary of Second World War German teenager reveals young lives untroubled by Nazi Holocaust in wartime Berlin
- 2 'Jail reckless bankers': Report urges the Government to introduce new criminal offence for reckless management
- 3 Breaking the Silence: In the reality of occupation, there are no Palestinian civilians – only potential terrorists
- 4 Uri Geller psychic spy? The spoon-bender's secret life as a Mossad and CIA agent revealed
- 5 Vice pulls 'breathtakingly tasteless' fashion shoot glorifying the suicides of famous female authors from Sylvia Plath to Virginia Woolf
£30000 - £35000 per annum: May & Stephens Recruitment Group: If you're an ambi...
£43000 - £50000 per annum + £5K Car Allowance + Bens : May & Stephens Recrui...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + Bens : May & Stephens Recruitment Group: If you're...
£16000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £23k - £45k: Connex Education: Connex Educatio...