Harlequins will undergo a transformation this summer and Dave Ward insists the changes put in place will see them restored as one of Aviva Premiership’s Rugby most menacing teams.
The Londoners mounted a spectacular comeback on the last day of the 2013/14 regular season to pip Bath Rugby into the semi-finals, but there will be no such feat this time around at 15 points behind the top four with three games to go.
Key injuries certainly haven’t helped, with Matt Shields – who was playing at third-tier Darlington Mowden Park until February – stepping into the breach after tight-heads Will Collier, Kyle Sinckler and Paul Doran-Jones all succumbed to injury.
Nevertheless Ward and co are not ones for making excuses and are still in the thick of a race for seventh and a European Rugby Champions Cup spot – with this week’s fixture against Sale Sharks set to be a pivotal one.
But with seasoned internationals Adam Jones and James Horwill set to flesh out the pack next year, and Tim Visser a recently confirmed signing among the backs, Ward can’t help but cast his eye on an even brighter future.
“There’s been a lot of stability at the club for a while now but we’re about to go under the biggest transition this summer, certainly since I’ve been here,” said the hooker.
“Over the last few seasons we’ve had a maximum of two or three coming in, but we’re making six or seven changes now.
"The players are really excited about the plans and how it’ll move forward our game.
“If you look at how the game’s evolving, attack has moved on and Bath are probably the team that are leading the way with that. We’ve still got our own brand that we want to play and it’s now just about taking that forward.
“I’ve been very lucky since coming to Harlequins, on my left shoulder I’ve had Joe Marler, on my right Will Collier or Kyle Sinckler who have all been in and around England and those sorts of opportunities are the ones you dream about as a hooker.
“Analysing and talking things through with the guys, these are real professionals who know a lot about rugby and a lot about scrums and our standards get better and better together, so to get Adam Jones in is going to make us even stronger.”
And one signing who’s already made a big impression on Ward is fly-half Tim Swiel, who is set to return to The Stoop next year following his initial loan move.
“Swiel has got an eye for it, Nick Evans was made for this league and he’s exactly the same sort of player,” he added.
“He’s quick across the ground and quick in mind, a very confident player and his decision making is usually spot on.
“In the time that he was here, he turned from a good player into a very good one and that was only a short space of time.
“Getting a proper pre-season under him we’ll all get used to him and as forwards we’re all looking forward to it.”
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