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Harlequins have a point to prove next season in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, admits Saili

Francis Saili

Francis Saili

Francis Saili admits Harlequins need to right some wrongs in Gallagher Premiership Rugby next season after a disappointing 2017/18 campaign.

The New Zealand centre cut a frustrated figure last season following his summer move from Munster after struggling with injuries as his new club finished in tenth.

Harlequins have since undergone a significant coaching overhaul, with director of rugby John Kingston departing and Paul Gustard coming in as the new head coach.

And speaking at the Premiership Rugby fixtures launch at BT Tower, Saili said the squad is eager to prove they are better than what they showed in the last campaign.

“There is a massive emphasis on righting a few wrongs from last season and we’re all disappointed as an organisation about how we performed,” he said.

“We really want to go out there and prove ourselves as we have a really good team and if we can get a good consistent team week in, week out we will be in good stead.

“It’s about getting those combinations out there on the field. We also have good coaches coming in and they have had a big impact on us already, so I’m looking forward to it.

“On a personal level and as a team, it feels like a fresh start and I think everybody is looking forward to the challenge and just can’t wait to get out there. There is a good buzz around the camp.

“Sale Sharks first at home is going to be unreal and the place is going to be booming and with Paul Gustard coming in, I’m excited to show the fans what we’re capable of.”

Saili revealed that he is currently working his way back to full fitness and is targeting a comeback for the team’s pre-season games as he looks to put his injury troubles behind him.

“I’m looking forward to getting the season going and obviously getting the body right first, but I’m on track at the moment with doing that,” he explained.

“The aim for me is to be back for the first pre-season game and then hopefully from that week onwards I can play some consistent rugby and get amongst it with the boys.

“I just have a lot of built-up frustration from last season about disappointments from injuries, but that’s the sort of thing you can’t control.”

While Saili was reluctant to look beyond the clash with Sharks, he said The Big Game in Round 11 – when Harlequins take on Wasps at Twickenham – does stand out for him.

“I watched The Big Game from the sidelines last season, so I’m just looking forward to running out with the flamethrowers with the lads and playing at Twickenham,” he said.

“It’s not often you get a chance to play at Twickenham if you’re not an international so that’s an exciting time and hopefully I can be part of that fixture.”

And after opening the season with the visit of Sale Sharks to The Stoop, Harlequins face a trip to Northampton Saints where Saili will come up against former coach Chris Boyd.

“I know Chris Boyd as he was my coach with New Zealand Under-20s,” he said of the new director of rugby at Saints.

“He did some really good stuff at Hurricanes and I think it is obviously a very good appointment for Northampton to make.

“Like us, they are going to be excited about making a new start this season and I look forward to catching up with him after that Friday night game in round two.”

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