Though Harlequins must now rely on an unlikely set of circumstances for this season to be considered a triumph, centre Harry Sloan will always mark 2014/15 down as one to remember.
Currently occupying eighth place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with two rounds to go, Quins will be absent from the play-offs for the first time in four seasons and are on course for their lowest finish since 2010.
But for Sloan, this has been a breakthrough season with nine appearances, including starts in Harlequins’ last five Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures.
And as the chance to build on that number next term may be hindered by the arrivals of fellow centres Winston Stanley and, potentially, Jamie Roberts, Sloan is savouring every minute of this season.
“It’s been nice to have been involved in so many Premiership games since the turn of the year,” said the 20-year-old.
“I’m still learning and the physicality has been the biggest thing to get to grips with. Every week you have to up it again, keep raising the bar.
“It’s my job to win the gain line and I have to keep working hard to do that.
“Jamie Roberts is a Wales and a British & Irish Lions legend. It would be a good opportunity to learn from him and to look at what he does.
"From a selection point of view, it might make things harder for me, but I’m only young and still looking to develop as much as I can. It will be up to me to try and prove my worth.”
Gloucester Rugby’s European Challenge Cup final victory last week means Quins must now claim an unlikely top-six finish to play in the Champions Cup next term.
They sit nine points behind Wasps with Sale Sharks sandwiched between them too and, though the European final was played at Quins’ Twickenham Stoop home, Sloan admits he watched at home through his fingers.
“I was sitting at home with my family and rooting for Edinburgh to come out on top,” he added.
“I thought there was a small chance they would do it once Gloucester had a player sent off. But fair play to Gloucester, they deserved to win.
“Everyone wants the chance to test themselves against the best teams, so to do that you need to be in the Champions Cup. But the Challenge Cup presents us with a great opportunity to win something, which would be massive for the club, so that will be a target for us next season.
“Lack of accuracy has cost us. Maybe we have not been as accurate this season, but it happens to all clubs. We finished in the top four for three years in a row and we will look to come back stronger next season.”
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