Richmond Women are full of confidence ahead of their Tyrrells Premier 15s opening clash against Harlequins at The Stoop on Saturday according to coach Mike Panoho.

New Zealand born Panoho, who was named Head Coach following the departure of Jonathan Griffin, is backing his squad to make a strong impact this season and push for their highest ever finish in the league.

Richmond who won the Women’s Premiership title in 2016, have finished seventh in both seasons since the inception of the Premier 15s in 2017/18, and Panoho is adamant his club are ready to start climbing the table.

“The last few months of pre-season have been incredibly strong for our squad," he said.

"We have seen a large influx of players with numbers at training hitting 65 or more.

“There is a huge amount of positivity amongst our squad.

"We have worked hard to create a strong culture and a sense of belonging.

"We want to create better people and therefore better rugby players.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Saturday’s opening fixture will feature a number of fresh combinations, with Panoho set to name up to nine new players in his Richmond squad.

Those that could potentially feature at the Stoop include former Harlequins hooker Pat Metcalfe-Jones, former Saracens wing Ellie Boatman, and England’s U18s 7s captain Sadia Kabeya, a product of Richmond’s Centre of Excellence.

“This has been very exciting and the new players have been exceptional," Panoho added.

"They have trained hard and embraced our culture and the direction we want to go.

“It’s been outstanding to see the competition for places.

"Our players want to work hard, want to challenge themselves and ultimately want to wear the Richmond shirt.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Richmond will arrive at the Stoop on Saturday afternoon with arguably their best pre-season under their belt.

The club has performed strongly in pre-season fixtures against Wasps Ladies and Henley Hawks, and undertaken weekend training camps with the Army Rugby Union and the Black Roses Posnania in Poland.

“There’s no question this has been an excellent pre-season for our squad.

"Every player has worked extremely hard and the training camps have been hugely positive”, commented Panoho.

“We’re now looking forward to getting to the Stoop on Saturday and competing hard against a very experienced Harlequins team.

"We know it’s going to be a huge challenge, but I am confident in my players, in our structure and in our game-plan.

"We just can’t wait to get started!”

Richmond Women begin their 2019/20 Tyrrells Premier 15s season away against Harlequins Women at the Stoop on Saturday (Kick-off 2pm).

READ:Richmond captain Hannah Field ready for Harlequins opener