Conor O’Shea believes he has the best individuals available to him since he arrived at Harlequins – but the director of rugby is fully aware that is only half the battle.
Despite Harlequins seeing club stalwarts Ugo Monye, Tom Williams and Jordan Turner-Hall retire – as well as the likes of George Robson and Paul Doran-Jones move on to pastures new – the 2012 Aviva Premiership Rugby champions are just as packed with talent as ever.
And that is down to new imports such as James Horwill, Adam Jones, Jamie Roberts and Tim Visser, to name just a few, rocking up to the Stoop this season.
Since arriving at Harlequins O’Shea as has led the club to the Aviva Premiership Rugby title as well as LV= Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup success – all in the space of his first three seasons.
His last two campaigns though have seen Quins finish empty handed, while last year they finished their league season down in eighth place.
However, one look at the names he has around the place this season gives fills O’Shea with confidence for the new campaign – even if he knows he must bring them all together sooner rather than later.
“This is the best group of individuals I have had but they are not a team yet,” said O’Shea, who’s side welcome Wasps to the Stoop on Friday night to start their season.
“Harlequins were a group who had been through a lot of ups and downs when I joined and we went on three years of winning trophies and bringing young players through and finishing in the top four.
“We have had to make changes through people not being able to train and play anymore and it is always sad to see legends like Jordan Turner-Hall retire so young because of a hip problem and you forget what he did for the club.
“We will miss those sort of people but the excitement of what this group can do is great.
“When I think about the competition for places that is there – Will [Collier], Adam [Jones], Kyle [Sinckler] are going head-to-head in training like you wouldn’t believe and that can only be good for Will and Kyle.
“It is actually energising Adam and that is the same in every position. Looking at our back row with [Chris] Robshaw, [Nick] Easter, [Jack] Clifford, [Luke] Wallace, [James] Chisholm and Mat Luamanu who has just joined us and I think wow.
“But every club will say the same so we have to make sure we go out there and do the business on the pitch.”
In order to gel his new squad together O’Shea has been able to benefit from a longer pre-season than usual with the Rugby World Cup in action, but now the Irishman can’t wait to get going.
“It is the longest pre-season and we are all brilliant now because no one has lost a game for five months,” he added.
“We are really excited to have the new season right around the corner. Everyone knows that we had a tough time of it last season after being in decent shape going into the New Year and we just want to make sure we remember that for the previous three years we have been in the top four and we were getting back up there last year until the end of January onwards.
“We have done a fair amount of change within the squad over the summer with some legends of the club retiring, some players moving on and some pretty significant players coming in.
“And hopefully the marriage of the mental quality and experience we have coming in will mix with the young players and the experience they got in the face of adversity last year."
The 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off on 16 October. To see all of the fixtures click here.