Quins can be optimistic

So, it all begins in earnest with the Double Header at Twickenham in just over three weeks – and there is plenty for Harlequins fans to be excited about.

After finishing last season on a high, winning the Amlin Challenge Cup in dramatic fashion against French giants Stade Francais, and qualifying for this season’s Heineken Cup, Quins will look to power on this season.

After some notable exits in Ceri Jones, Gonzalo Camacho, social hand grenade James Percival and Irish trio Dave Moore, Lewis Stevenson and John Andress, Quins welcome four new signings.

Scrum-half Richard Bolt and centre Matt Hopper move to the capital from Bristol and Cornish Pirates respectively, while props Nic Mayhew (New Zealand club side Northcote) and Tim Fairbrother (Western Force) add a bit of Southern Hemisphere muscle to the pack.

There are also two step-ups from the very successful Quins Academy. Ross Chisholm, who won the player of the night award in the first round of the JP Morgan 7s at Bath, has been threatening to break through for a while now.

England’s Nick Easter will be a vital player for Quins once again

With great skill and natural, searing pace, he will certainly provide the opposition with a few sleepless nights once he gets into his stride.

And, despite his rather dodgy and footballesque hairband, Luke Wallace, 20, is determined to stake his claim in an already strong backrow and show what he can bring to the party.

Last season, Quins demonstrated they can beat anyone, anywhere, seeing off both Northampton at Franklins Gardens and, in one of the biggest results in the club’s recent history, overturning the mighty Munster in front of 26,000 passionate Irish folk at Thomond Park on their way to the Amlin Final in Cardiff.

However, they also suffered a rash of ‘nearly’ results, on occasions coming close to putting the opposition away, but suffering from an inability to finish games off from winning positions.

They lack nothing in skill and pace, not to mention power with the likes of Samoan wrecking ball Maurie Fa’asavalu and Joe Marler – another 20-year-old – making his mark in the scrum.

The next step is consistency, especially away from home. But for a few of those very close results, Quins could have found themselves considerably higher in the table and into a play-off position at the end of last season.

They proved throughout the year that they can fire out of the blocks like 15 Exocet missiles guided straight at their opposite numbers and blow them off their foundations. When they maintained that dominance and did not allow teams to find a way back in, they looked an outstanding side.

The changes to the squad, whilst lacking in big-name signings, should strengthen them. If they can crack the consistency curse and play up again for a few big results, like against Toulouse in the Heineken Cup, they could be in for a storming season.