Conor O'Shea: Harlequins should not be written off

Conor O'Shea
Conor O'Shea won 35 international caps for Ireland

Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea says his side should not be written off, despite a mixed start to the season.

Quins are sixth in the fledgling Premiership table, having lost matches comprehensively to Saracens and Exeter.

"Last year we had a worse start than this. People have very short memories and we made it into the top four," O'Shea told BBC London 94.9.

"We intend to do that again. If anyone thinks we are going away, they have another thing coming."

He added: "It is a long, long season and there will be ups and downs.

"We are in for a long, hard fight and we are ready for it. We have got a lot of mentally very tough players."

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea:
"Are we disappointed with our start? Yes, of course we are because we have massive expectation and massive standards at the club. The Premiership is brutal."

Quins, the 2012 Premiership champions, have beaten London Irish, Wasps and London Welsh so far this season, but lost 39-0 at home to Sarries and 36-13 to the Chiefs in Exeter.

The south west London club have only picked up one bonus point so far this season, coming in the 52-0 thrashing of London Welsh on Saturday.

"Last year we won two of our first five," O'Shea added.

"It is very easy to start looking for all the things that are wrong, rather than saying the things which are right.

"Are we disappointed with our start? Yes, of course we are because we have massive expectation and massive standards at the club.

"The Premiership is brutal. You just need to make sure you deliver what you are good at."

Harlequins in 2014-15 Premiership
Sep 6: 20-15 v London Irish (Twickenham)
Sep 12: 0-39 v Saracens (H)
Sep 20: 26-23 v Wasps (H)
Sep 28: 13-36 v Exeter Chiefs (A)
Oct 4: 52-0 v London Welsh (H)

The Twickenham Stoop side won three trophies in three seasons prior to the 2013-14 campaign, when Harlequins were beaten in the Premiership semi-finals and reached the last four of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

O'Shea is happy to carry the burden of aiming to repeat previous successes.

"It is so early in the season," he said. "What we have done over the last four seasons doesn't change in five games.

"With what we have done comes a huge expectation. You prefer to have that around your neck - that people expect certain things and we demand that ourselves.

"Anyone who wants to write us off can. We are in for a fight."

O'Shea expects the Premiership to be competitive all year, with just five points currently separating fourth-placed Exeter and Leicester Tigers, who are 10th.

"The table is a log jam and is going to be like that for the season," the Irishman said.

"We are going to have to prepare to play some snakes and ladders; to knuckle down, to be written off and written up and see where we are at the end.

"I'm excited by where this group of players can go."