O'Shea looking forward in new Quins role
CONOR O'SHEA refuses to look back. Almost a year since Harlequins were mired in the 'Bloodgate' scandal, the former Ireland full-back's return to his first love, in the role of director of rugby at the Twickenham Stoop, is aimed at carrying the club forward.
He admits that the foundations are in place thanks to the work of Mark Evans, the chief executive, and Dean Richards, his predecessor who resigned last August because of his involvement in the use of fake blood capsules during last April's Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster, O'Shea's former province.
"You are your history, Bloodgate is part of the history," he said yesterday as he prepares for his first game, against Bath at the Recreation Ground tomorrow. "That's a chapter which hasn't been written in the official club histories yet. There's no need to expunge it, there is a need to move on.
"Dean did an enormous amount for this club; he's an icon, a legend of English rugby. He's still incredibly passionate about Harlequins, which was even more striking when I met him."
It is not what he envisaged. After 10 years with London Irish and three with the RFU as head of the national academy, O'Shea expected to be with the English Institute of Sport as national director until at least the 2012 Olympic Games. But the combination of his affection for the sport in which he won 35 caps between 1993 and 2000 and the structure established at Harlequins proved irresistible and not even the loss yesterday of David Strettle to Saracens could diminish his mood.
"We gave him our best offer, but we have to keep the squad under the salary cap and we knew we would lose at least one of our names," he said. "It's something people will have to get used to, that a major player will leave every club, every year."