Gustard: Harlequins committed to changing squad's age profile
Paul Gustard admits the Harlequins squad has been “too old for too long” and is committed to changing the age profile in a bid to help eradicate the inconsistent performances that are hampering their Gallagher Premiership challenge.
Quins were in touch with champions Exeter deep into their opening match of the new season only to slip to a 33-3 defeat that makes their trip to Northampton on Saturday vital if they are to establish early momentum.
Gustard, Harlequins head of rugby, said: “We are working hard on the age profile of the squad and it has been too old for too long. We are trying to regenerate it and start growing and this club has only been in the top four a total of four times in 20 years and the Premiership title (2012) was an anomaly and we are trying to find consistency and we are pushing in the right direction.
“We have seen that success at Exeter and Saracens where the longer the team stays together then you give yourself a stronger chance. I see the group we currently have, all things being equal, staying at the club for a long time. Top-flight sport is tough and if you get things wrong you are severely punished.
“There are elements of that Exeter game we were happy with but if you have a weakness, an Achilles heel – our maul defence – then you get exposed by a team of their quality. We will take our medicine but you cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater and we know from Rob Baxter’s comments after the game they were hurting from when we beat them last time.
“We are working on an all-court game and of course we know the DNA of the club is attack but that is ultimately one facet of the game. We are all working on a bigger vision for the club and were finished two wins behind the team that finished fourth. If we can win 40-50 per cent of our away games and be more resolute at home then we will be a top four team. At the moment we are not consistent enough and therefore you can’t kick on.”
Gustard has welcomed the news that Quins could be able to welcome 4,000 fans to the Twickenham Stoop for future games as “awesome”. He added: “For sport in general it would be a boost financially and our supporters are very loyal. Now, they are going to get an opportunity to see us play again and while its not 15,000 at the Stoop it is 4,000 and we will take that.”
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