Harlequins have developed an unwanted habit of falling at the penultimate hurdle in recent Singha Premiership Rugby 7s but Charlie Walker believes his side’s talented young fliers can take them one step further this year.
A narrow loss to Leicester Tigers prevented Quins reaching the final in 2013, before experiencing more heartbreak on home turf last year as they fell to Newport Gwent Dragons at the semi-final stage.
With the showpiece finale once again taking place at the Twickenham Stoop on 28 August, Walker is certain his team will be fired up not to repeat the errors of previous years.
Not that their task will be easy, as hosts Wasps, Northampton Saints and Saracens lie in wait in their Group C clashes at the Ricoh Arena on 21 August.
And following a disappointing Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign in which they finished down in eighth, Walker admits his side owe their home support a stellar showing ahead of the new season.
“We went through the pool stages with a lot of confidence last year – we went out there with a bang and put in some good performances on the pitch,” said the 22-year-old.
“Unfortunately, as we have done for the last couple of years, we let ourselves down in the final stages and we’re looking to go one further this year.
“That’s going to be tough but we have a similar pool each year and it’s always a tough one.
“I’m sure the guys who are out there this year will put on their best show and do the Quins shirt proud.
“We want to get in front of our home crowd and if that’s not an incentive, then I don’t know what is.
“We want to put last season behind us – we’ve taken down our values from last year and we’ll rearrange them as a completely new squad this season.”
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s is the only competition this season where you will see the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs taking on the four Welsh Regions. Twelve months before rugby returns to the Olympics in Rio, Premiership Rugby continues to lead the way when it comes to club 7s.
And Walker believes the 7s game remains an important part of his own development and is confident it will prove similarly vital for Quins’ other young charges.
“The Premiership 7s has been a huge part of my development,” he added. “As a back three player, it’s perfect when there is more space on the pitch and you look to exploit that.
“We’ve always had a strong 7s side with guys who can make the holes which makes it a lot easier because you can focus on your job. With good players around you, you look better yourself.
“Joe Marchant who played last year is a dangerous player and still very young. Then Sam Aspland-Robinson, who is away with England U18s at the moment, has just been announced in the Junior Commonwealths so he’ll be one to look out for.
“We haven’t seen much of the new guys yet as we haven’t done much rugby stuff in training but the guys they bring through are always ones to watch out for.”