Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans says there can be no excuses from his side if they fail to finish in the Aviva Premiership Rugby top four this season.
The 35-year-old Quins legend is heading into his eighth year at The Stoop, where he has started 125 times and scored a whopping 1388 points in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
This season sees Harlequins begin their campaign with a tough test at home to rivals Wasps, who have been victorious by at least 20 points in the last two meetings between the sides.
But with the clash fast approaching, Evans admits Harlequins need to hit the ground running in the league if they want to avoid a repeat of last season’s disappointing eighth-place finish.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a good tough start. We’ve got Wasps, Leicester and Bath, so it’s a big three games first off the bat and we want to get off to a fast start.
“We know the expectation and the pressure that’s on us. It doesn’t need to be said now, everyone wants it.
“The main goal is to win the whole thing, that’s what we want to do. We’re all about just trying to win each game that’s presented before us.
“If you win enough games, you put yourself in a position to vie for those places in the top four.
“I think the guys have got a little bit more of different mentality this year, before we were a bit more process driven, which we still are to an extent.
“We want that winning, cutting edge, that mental mindset to go out there and win every little battle that we’re involved in, whether that be one phase, two phases, technical, trying to beat your opposite man or winning the game as a whole.”
Evans admits the long pre-season has been the most gruelling of his career, but is confident it has put them in the best position to put last year behind them.
And the former New Zealand international believes that the intense preparation so far, as well as a few new faces – including James Horwill, Adam Jones and Jamie Roberts – in the Quins squad, has given them the edge they previously lacked.
He added: “It’s the longest pre-season I have ever had. I’ve never been more sick of gym sessions or running sessions in my life.
“We’re at the back end of it now, we’ve had a few games and we’re very much looking forward to starting the season.
“Especially with all the rugby that’s going on at the moment with the World Cup, it’s getting the juices going. It’s been brilliant.
“Pre-season has been great, we have a lot of new guys coming in which has been good too. We’ve been getting those guys into the Quins culture which has been pretty easy actually.
“We had a trip to Philadelphia which was brilliant, it was a good chance for those guys to bond, a ‘boys on tour’ sort of thing, but we also had a game which went really well against USA, so I’m looking forward to start of the season.”
The 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off on 16 October. To see all of the fixtures click here.