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Super League club building for both the short and long term

Luke Dorn Posted 12th August 2011 view comments

We are now heading into the closing stages of the Super League campaign for 2011... to say this season hasn't gone according to plan for Harlequins would be a massive understatement, to say the least.

Rather than pushing for a play-off place, we are sadly playing for nothing but pride in the final few weeks.

Our efforts during a long off-season came to fruition early doors, particularly with the style of football we were playing, but then the wheels came off and it's been a long process trying to put them back on - and in truth it's been a process we haven't been good at.

Jamie O'Callaghan: has come through the ranks at Harlequins

Jamie O'Callaghan: has come through the ranks at Harlequins

It's hard to really put a finger on where it has all gone wrong. We haven't changed a great deal from start to finish.

Probably the major factor has been the strength of our squad. We have lacked depth and have needed a lot of loan signings to come in and bolster our numbers. While they have been fantastic for the club, working just as hard as those who are on a long-term contract, it's simply not an ideal situation.

The hope is that in the near future there won't just be Londoners dominating the Quins team, but that also three or four of them can go on and establish themselves on the international scene for England.

Luke Dorn
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We did, however, know that would be the case at the start of the season, probably even at the back end of the last one. We knew it was going to be tough and we perhaps over-achieved in the opening few months.

But, the signs are good for next year and beyond.

Recently the club has announced the signings of Crusaders duo Michael Witt and Mark Bryant, as well as securing former Australia international Craig Gower, who is coming back to league from rugby union.

As for the long-term future, the signs are even more promising. Dan Sarginson has signed a new deal and Kieran Dixon, another exciting prospect who has yet to make his first-team debut but has impressed in the Under 20's, has also pledged his future to Quins. They are both going to be in the first-team squad for years to come.

Talent

There are plenty more set to come through from the junior ranks too. Some of them haven't got a lot of meat on their bones just yet, but they have a huge amount of natural talent.

The hope is that in the near future there won't just be Londoners dominating the Quins team, but that also three or four of them can go on and establish themselves on the international scene for England.

This is my third year back at London and I'm helping out with the Under 18's, getting down on Monday and Wednesday nights.

The work that they do with regards youth development is the stuff that other clubs have been doing for years and years. It's taken them a little while to get things set up and put the right people in place, but now there are signs of the hard work bearing fruit.

In recent years we've seen the likes of Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Jamie O'Callaghan come through and reach the first team, and the hope is that there will be many more following in their footsteps.

There are players in the Under 18's, many of whom are still only 17, who show huge amounts of potential and from all accounts the Under 15's may offer up even better.

The difference now is that the kids are developing as rugby league players. They are coming through with good knowledge of the game, because they've started at a much younger age.

Development in London is crucial, not only for Harlequins but for the national team and the sport in general. It is such a large catchment area, something that perhaps people in the north don't quite comprehend.

We still have guys who come over from rugby union and other sports, but now what you notice is that the younger generation has been much more exposed to rugby league, they are clued up on the big names in the NRL and Super League, as well as the way to play, both with and without the ball.

Jamie (O'Callaghan) said that when he was coming through the system the coaching was more about a steep learning process.

Now the next generation have a great advantage because they are already further along the development line, giving them a greater chance of becoming Super League players.

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