With Conor O’Shea responsible for much of the successes of Harlequins in recent years, his departure left an air of uncertainty at the Twickenham-based club.
However, the Quins hierarchy have turned to the club’s existing coaches in John Kingston and Mark Mapletoft and promoted them to take up the space made by O’Shea’s absence. Kingston, who has been at the club for fifteen years becomes director of rugby. Former backs coach Mapletoft takes his spot as head coach.
Ex-England forwards boss Graham Rowntree has moved into Premiership club rugby with Quins and it will be fascinating to see what impact he brings to the club in his first role since leaving the RFU.
Club stalwart Nick Easter is moving into a player-coach role and focus on defence, but he will also provide a bridge between players and coaches.
With a little tweaking in the coaching department has come very little transfer activity in the playing squad.
Scotland fly-half Ruaridh Jackson comes in as a solid replacement back-up to Nick Evans after Ben Botica left to join Montpellier. Charlie Mulcrone and Aaron Morris provide further squad cover, and the Highlanders’ Mark Reddish bolsters the club’s options in the second row. Tito Tebaldi, Kieran Tredwell and Beau Robinson are the others to have left the club.
With Harlequins opting for ‘evolution not revolution‘ it is unlikely that the team will make any major deviation away from its attacking style that it adapted to under the guidance of O’Shea, and the club’s core of players is still very much intact. Any influence that Rowntree will bring should be palpable within the coming months.
What will genuinely prove a challenge for the team is how they fare with a number of players potentially on England duty during the international window, including Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Chris Robshaw, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Marland Yarde and Mike Brown, and with James Chisholm impressing on the Saxons tour it might not be long before he joins his colleagues in the senior ranks.
Harlequins have placed a lot of faith in John Kingston with him moving up to the responsibility of director of rugby and fans will wait eagerly to see if can make the transition smoothly.
However, it will be another solid but unspectacular season for Quins with the team likely to finish in the top six, but only just.
Charlie Mulchrone from Worcester Warriors
Ruaridh Jackson from Wasps
Aaron Morris from Saracens
Mark Reddish from Highlanders
Kieran Treadwell to Ulster
Tebaldi to Benetton Treviso
Ben Botica to Montpellier
Beau Robinson released
Prediction: Scraping in to the top 6
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena