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Harlequins must rise to the challenge of keeping season alive
Director of rugby Conor O’Shea has every faith his injury ravaged Harlequins are capable of staying in the hunt for silverware this season.
Quins, who are yet to win at home this term, slipped to a third successive defeat as they crashed 33-26 to the Scarlets in Europe on Saturday.
O’Shea was without 13 of his 38-man Heineken Cup squad for that clash and looked on as Maurie Fa’asavalu was added to the long-term casualty list at the weekend.
The Samoan goes under the knife tomorrow to repair a serious hamstring injury that will see him sidelined until the end of January.
The former Premiership champions signed Paul Doran-Jones, Nick Kennedy and Paul Sackey in the summer, but nine players either left the club or retired.
The current the injury crisis – and international call-ups – has served to stretch resources further, but O’Shea remains confident he has the men to arrest the slide.
“We produce our own players. That is the way we do things,” he said.
“We cannot retain the quality of player we have and at the same time recruit more players. It is physically impossible, within the current constraints.
“We won two trophies last year with this squad and you will struggle to name a team that has been able to do that. I’m very pleased with the squad we have. We’ve had a fairly smooth time of it over the past couple of years. We have won a lot of games.
“This is a challenging time, but in sport you have to meet that challenge. That is what it is all about and we are going to have to work very hard to get back on track.
“Yes, we have not started the season well, but it is how you finish that counts and we will be judged come the end of the season.”
O’Shea was embarrassed by his side’s ‘touch rugby’ tackling against the Welshmen that saw the visitors pile up 21 points from long range tries.
Full back Mike Brown scored twice but not enough to prevent a defeat that now leaves Quins needing to upset the odds at Clermont Auvergne – unbeaten at home in more than 60 games – on Sunday to keep Euro hopes alive.
“They have not lost at home for six years, so we know it is going to be tough,” added O’Shea.