IT’S been another tough year for Harlequins.
With six games of the regular season remaining, the London-based club are second bottom of the Super League table and a place in the play-offs no longer looks possible.
Just six wins have been achieved in their 21 League fixtures, although they could count themselves a little unfortunate not to have picked up a seventh at St Helens a week ago (they lost 32-18 trailing just 20-18 with 13 minutes remaining) – and that would have been on the back of a big 35-18 home success over Bradford Bulls the week before!
That’s certainly not the form of a side that’s at the wrong end of the table, but it does sum up Quins’ year.
At the start of the campaign, injuries hit their relatively thin squad hard, and they struggled to make any sort of meaningful impact.
On top of that, they then suffered the mid-season tragedy of inspirational captain Rob Purdham being given compassionate leave after his brother Garry became one of the victims of the Cumbrian shootings.
But following Purdham’s return to action last month and several key players back after long spells on the sidelines, the tide began to turn.
The Quins have been far more competitive, and if the Giants are not at their best this weekend they could be in for a shock.
INJURY means it’s touch and go as to whether Rob Purdham will captain Quins at the Galpharm on Sunday.
But if he does, it’s obvious he will receive the full support of the Giants faithful.
Purdham’s brother, Garry, was, of course, one of the 12 victims of the Cumbrian shootings on June 2 this year.
The Harlequins skipper was given compassionate leave by his club to travel back to Cumbria and has subsequently said the positive response of the rugby league community convinced him not to give up his playing career following the tragedy.
That support has continued ever since, with Purdham desperately trying to get his career firmly back on track.
And when he does, the rugby league world will be delighted for him.
BRIAN McDERMOTT last week underlined his loyalty to the Harlequins’ cause by rejecting a potential move back to former club Bradford Bulls.
The ex-Giants assistant coach – when Tony Smith was in charge – had been installed as the favourite to take over at Odsal from new England chief Steve McNamara for next season.
But within days of dismissing the speculation over a move up north and pledging his future to the London-based club, McDermott was masterminding a dominant 35-16 triumph over the Bulls at The Stoop.
It was just the latest coaching success for the former Royal Marine and Great Britain prop.
He took over as Quins coach from Tony Rea in July 2006 and is acknowledged as doing an outstanding job promoting the game in the capital and developing local products such as Tony Clubb and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.