Paul Gustard, Harlequins’ new Head of Rugby, has revealed the extent of his eagerness to get started at the Club this summer.

In his first interview since taking up his role with the London club Gustard told Quins TV how he took his first training session within hours of touching down at Heathrow following England’s tour of South Africa.

“I haven’t had any time off this summer,” he said. “I came straight off the plane, landed at Heathrow at 5.30am on the Monday, got myself to Pennyhill Park [England’s training base], picked up my car and was into work by about 7.30am and coaching by 8 o’clock- which was great.

“I was super-excited to be here and it was great to be contributing to the Club and seeing the boys in action. Some of them knew I was coming, but not all!”

Gustard did not want any fuss made about his arrival and simply wanted to get on with the job in hand. “There was no great fanfare or welcome but I did get a cup of tea so it wasn’t too bad,” he smiled.

“And it has been brilliant being here. I have loved it all so far. It is an honour, a privilege to represent Harlequins, one of the most famous clubs in the world. We obviously have a very talented squad who have all been working hard and I am really chuffed to be back in the Premiership. It is a league I know pretty well and I am looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

Gustard has already got stuck into his training regimen and the players that have been back in pre-season so far have been left in no doubt as to what their new Head of Rugby’s focus is right now.

“My number one priority is to get the boys fit,” said Gustard. “100 per cent. Fitness is a by-product of what we do. We are coaching the boys to work hard and the by-product is we will get fitter. We need to be at a level where we can operate with the intensity of how we want to play.

“The players have reacted really well so far – they have got stuck into it, they are energised, and they are happy. I may need to make them unhappy at times I guess! We are working them hard and they are applying themselves to get to different levels to those we achieved last season and I have been really pleased with the effort they have put in.

“And it has been fun so far. The good thing is it is pre-season, no games have been played and everyone starts at ground level again. No team has been picked so there are no disappointed players yet. And all they can do for me is to keep putting their best foot forward.

"We have had some fun meetings, we have had some good energy around the place and the boys have really applied themselves. With training being very competitive I think they have found it very rewarding too.”

Coaches and players alike have been poring over the Gallagher Premiership fixture list that was released on Friday but Gustard says he is just very pleased to be able to start the campaign at home, playing in front of supporters who he regards as among the most passionate and knowledgeable in the world.

“Having seen the fixture list the thing we are most excited about is we are going to be starting the season at home,” said Gustard. “We are playing in front of our fans at The Stoop and I know we will get a sell-out, I know we will have a raucous support and I know the team will do the crowd proud.

“As far as the opposition is concerned, it doesn’t matter who we start off against – we have to play everyone twice. There are some very good teams in the competition and Sale are one of those teams.

"They have obviously just made a high-profile acquisition in Chris Ashton too. They are challenging, they are pushing, they are trying to build on their momentum and we are trying to create momentum. We are really looking forward to it.

“But we have three warm-up games prior to that and those games are crucial. Whatever we do in terms of our preparation now gets us to a level to play rugby so we are ready for the arrival of Sale on the first day of the Gallagher Premiership.

“You can get fit by running, you can get fit by doing all the conditioning work but you also need some match preparation – against different teams, posing different kinds of challenges.

“The pre-season games are again a chance for our players to put their best foot forward and a chance for all players to stake a claim for a starting shirt and make the decisions as challenging as possible for us as a selection committee.”

While Gustard’s attention is firmly on the first game of the season, supporters’ eyes are always drawn to the Saracens game, which this year is being live streamed across America to a primetime audience.

“Having our game against Saracens streamed on NBC is fantastic,” said Gustard.

“To be recognised as a global brand, which Harlequins clearly is, and then to be put into a new market like America which is trying to grow its own game and to have Harlequins play a team that has been as successful as Saracens have been is another real privilege.

“And again the game is at The Stoop and we have got a pretty decent record against Saracens over the last couple of years.

"We will be looking to emulate that. They have been the best team and we want to beat the best. We want to win the league and to do that we have to be winning all these games.”

Another much-talked about fixture is Big Game 11 at Twickenham, on Dec 29, against Wasps. “I have been fortunate enough to be at The Big Game for the past two years as a spectator, looking for things from individuals involved in England. The occasion, the atmosphere – with over 80,000 people at Twickenham – it is a brilliant spectacle.

“And for the players it is huge. Not everyone gets the opportunity to play international rugby and for those that don’t this is the closest thing they are going to get to doing so.”