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RUGBY UNION: Quins looking to the future
OXFORD Harlequins’ head of rugby Steve Chadbone admits the club are already preparing for next season as they struggle to avoid relegation from National 3 South West.
But Chadbone refuses to accept that Quins are heading down. “If we could win three or four of our last six games, we could just avoid the drop, but it’s a big ask,” he said.
“But I feel much more confident about our future now, if we do go down, than I did a few weeks ago.
“Now we have put in a place a team of coaches involving Jamie Cope and Tony Edney, the players are much more enthusiastic about their rugby. It’s a pity this wasn’t the case in October.”
Although beaten 52-20 at leaders London Irish Wild Geese last week, Quins showed plenty of spirit in fighting back from 28-0 down.
“We can’t afford giving our opponents big starts,” said Chadbone ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Old Patesians.
Quins will be without centre Pita Halatokua, who has flown back to Tonga, while No 8 Seisoni Tupou is resting a nagging ankle injury.
Sam Bennett (head knock) and Ollie Rees (flu) are fit to return to the back row,while Alan Johnstone comes into the centre.
Henley Hawks welcome back flanker Ryan Newman as they continue their National 2 South promotion bid at home to basement club Barking, who have won only one game all season.
Newman, last season’s player of the year, has been out for a month through injury.
Will Woodward switches to No 6 to allow Newman to resume his preferred position at No 7.
Liam O’Neill returns to right wing in place of top try-scorer Xavier Andre, who has a foot injury. Luke Carter will start at scrum-half in place of Jonah Holmes who is required by London Wasps.
Chinnor are unchanged for the trip to Hartpury College, who are the only visiting team to have won at Kingsey Road this season.
Fly half Will Millett, sent off in Chinnor’s 35-34 win over Redruth two weeks ago, has escaped a ban.
At a hearing last week, it was deemed that the sending-off was sufficient punishment.
Dan Godfrey, Marc Copperwheat, Rich Stratford and Thom Murton all return for Witney, who visit bottom club Swanage & Wareham in South West 1 East.
Witney will be keen to end a poor run which has seen them slip close to the relegation zone.