O'Shea: Quins can cope with loss of Johnston

4:33pm Tuesday 15th January 2013

By Stuart Amos

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea is confident the club has the resources to cover the departure of prop James Johnston at the end of the season.

The 26-year-old, who moved to the Stoop from Richmond in 2009, has agreed a long-term switch to London rivals Saracens, having made 88 appearances for the club and lifted the Aviva Premiership crown.

Saracens announced his arrival on Monday and Harlequins confirmed the switch today admitting they were unable to meet his financial demands within the constraints of the salary cap.

But O'Shea, who is close to agreeing a deal for an experienced front row forward as Johnston's direct replacement, insisted the likes of Will Collier and Kyle Sinckler were capable of filling the void.

“We are very disappointed to lose a player of James’ ability,” said Conor O’Shea. 

“He has developed greatly since he joined us four years ago and I’m sure he is destined for great things in the game. 

"Unfortunately, given the constraints of the salary cap, we were unable to meet his financial expectations so he has decided to move on at the end of the current season.

"But I know he will give his all to go out on a high from the club that has become his extended family and means a great deal to him.”

“We’re in the fortunate position of having two of the most exciting, young tight heads props in the country coming through our system in Will Collier and Kyle Sinckler.

"We are confident that we will be able to recruit another experienced front row forward to complement them shortly.”

Meanwhile, Quins lock Olly Kohn has thrown his hat into the ring to answer a Wales international injury crisis.

Interim head coach Rob Howley has five second rows on the treatment table at the moment as the countdown to the Six Nations championships gathers pace.

The 31-year-old, whose game has progress immeasurably in seven years at the Stoop after signing from Bristol, has revealed his grandfather was from the Rhymney Valley and would be honoured to play for Wales.

Kohn signed a new contract extension with the club on Monday keeping him in west London until the end of next season.


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