Harlequins’ new signings have revealed the intensity of pre-season training at Surrey Sports Park under new Head of Rugby Paul Gustard.

Second row Matt Symons, who has arrived from Wasps, said: “Paul’s brought in a real focus on our defence, ensuring that we really impose ourselves physically over the opposition in that area, and once we’ve mastered that, we’ll be able to let our natural attacking flare and shape do its thing.

“Being here has already exceeded all of my expectations and I’m really excited for the season to come.

“I’ve got to earn my stripes first, as everyone does. I’m a hard-working guy, and I’m prepared to do the hard yards on the field when needed. I’ve been in a few different environments and hopefully I can bring that experience in here at Quins.

“I have been told to get my head down, work hard, and bring a physical presence on the field and that is what I intend to do.”

Australian centre Ben Tapuai, who came from Bath during the summer, added: “Everyone is working really hard but that’s the point of pre-season – to run until you drop!”

“I’ve been hearing a lot from Gussy just to keep working hard! They’re letting me click with the boys, but everyone is keeping their heads down and working right now.”

Loose-head prop Nick Auterac, who has also arrived from Bath, said it has been an incredibly tough pre-season – but fun too. “Paul and Alex [Codling] have brought in a lot of energy to the squad, also a sense of enjoyment. They’ve instilled it in order to enjoy what we’re doing. We have to be prepared to put in the hard work to get the results this season.”

All three also share great memories of playing at The Stoop. “When I’ve played against Quins before I’ve always come off the field with my lungs blowing,” said Symons. “You never know what’s going to happen! Especially with Danny [Care] around the ruck – he’s a nightmare for tight forwards.

Auterac added: “My memories of playing Quins are coming off the field feeling absolutely knackered! They seemed to run it from everywhere, so it would generally take the whole weekend to recover!”

Tapuai, meanwhile, said competition for places for the first game of the season against Sale at The Stoop is intense. “Everyone is trying to get involved in the pre-season matches and with the first Premiership match of the season at The Stoop, everyone is really excited,” he said.

“I had my first start for Bath against Quins on a Friday night at The Stoop which was a bit special. The Stoop is a pretty special place and it is awesome to be part of this prestigious.”

Alex Dombrandt, another second row who has joined from Cardiff Met University, is delighted to be joining the Club he used to support as a boy. “I remember going to The Stoop as a kid and the atmosphere there with the crowd singing and supporting the players on the pitch, players that I’m now training with and being coached by. It’s a dream come true.

“It’s been good since arriving, but it’s also been tough. A lot is being asked of us but I’m really enjoying it and I’m looking forward to what’s to come.

“So far, it has been about setting goals individually and as a team about where we want to go this season and making sure that we are pushing ourselves every day to be the best that we can be.

“There’s a lot to look forward to this year, but now it is about getting the hard yards in and making sure that as individuals we are prepared.”