Conor O'Shea: Harlequins boss has sympathy for London Irish plight

Conor O'Shea
Conor O'Shea joined Harlequins as director of rugby in 2010

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea admits he has plenty of sympathy towards former club London Irish for their current plight.

O'Shea leads Quins into a European Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Exiles on Saturday (20:05 BST).

Irish sit bottom of the Premiership table by four points, with three games left to play.

"I love that club," O'Shea told BBC Sport. "I certainly don't want to see them go down."

Quins could play a pivotal part in Irish's fate between now and the end of the season as they prepare to face them in both league and cup.

O'Shea, who will leave The Stoop in the summer to take charge of Italy, has an association with London Irish that extends to former player, director of rugby and managing director.

"I came over to the club in 1995 to get it up into the top division and it's been there ever since," said the 45-year-old.

"I gave so much time to it and I so want them to get out of where they are now and avoid the drop.

"But, this [the Challenge Cup] is a competition where they can relax and give it a crack and probably come in with no expectation."

Conor O'Shea
O'Shea made 127 first-team appearances for London Irish between 1995 and 2000, scoring 412 points

Putting sentimentality aside, O'Shea has eyes on regaining the European title he first won with Quins in 2011.

"At the start of the season, there's only two trophies we could win, this one and the Premiership," he said.

"You're judged at the end of your career by whether or not you win trophies and that's something this group of players want to do.

"We're 240 minutes away from winning this competition, but there's a tough 80 minutes against London Irish to come."

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