O’Shea challenges senior stars to match youngsters’ cup glory
Director of rugby Conor O’Shea claimed Harlequins’ bulging trophy cabinet is a reminder to his star men they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
Quins claimed their second piece of silverware of the season on Sunday with a 32-14 triumph over Sale Sharks to add the LV= Cup to the A League crown they won before Christmas.
The defending Premiership champions, who travel to Saracens on Sunday, currently sit in the division’s top four and await a Heineken Cup quarter-final visit from Munster next month.
But many of Sunday’s cup winners will be lucky to be named on the bench for this weekend’s crunch trip to north London, let alone for the big European clash.
Fly-half Nick Evans, number eight Nick Easter and winger Ugo Monye are among those expected to return to the starting line-up, with England quartet Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown, Danny Care and Joe Marler also in line for club recalls.
And O’Shea, who has 44 fit players to choose from approaching the run-in, has warned his big guns they might not have it all their own way when it comes to getting in his starting line-up.
“We have a pretty massive nine weeks ahead and this is a reminder to the players coming back of how we try to play,” he said.
“We’ve blooded a lot of people, which gives us the squad depth we want, and that is exciting.
“Every single player knows they can be called on at any one time, whether it is for one minute or for 80. It might be that one minute that wins you a championship.
“It is a great headache to have, but this is a good spur for the returning senior players to look at what we have done over the past couple of weeks.”
Tries from Tom Williams and Tom Guest – plus eight points from the reliable boot of Ben Botica – gave Quins an 18-6 half-time advantage at Worcester’s Sixways stadium, with Danny Cipriani twice on target for the Sharks.
A third Cipriani penalty opened the scoring after the restart, but Tom Casson hit back immediately for Quins and skipper Luke Wallace ensured Johnny Leota’s response was a mere consolation.