Mike McFarlane insists he is content with the make-up of his Abu Dhabi Harlequins squad – despite the loss of three key players over the course of the summer.
Centres Brian Geraghty and Willie Umu, as well as flanker Patrick Jenkinson, have all departed for pastures new during the off-season. Geraghty – arguably the standout player of Gulf rugby last season – has returned home to Ireland, while Umu and Jenkinson are pursuing rugby opportunities in New Zealand and Hong Kong respectively.
Although Quins won an unprecedented quintuple of trophies in 2016/17, McFarlane says that brings with it both positive and negative connotations.
“Unfortunately that’s the nature of this place. And success brings good publicity for them and further rugby opportunities,” said Quins’ head coach.
“We’re losing three quality players. Brian had the X factor, incredible pace and footballing skills. Willy brought power and the ability to bring others into the game while Jenks is an outstanding athlete and possesses a great rugby brain.
“All three will very much be missed but it’s great that Quins have had such a positive influence on their rugby careers and we hope they go on to achieve even more with their new clubs.”
Quins possess the largest senior playing in the UAE and have also brought in a number of top name players over the summer, including powerhouse prop Craig Nutt, as well as Garth van Niekirk, Sean Stevens, Matt Hutchings and Ross Byres from cross-city rivals Saracens.
Player comings and goings aside, McFarlane feels repeating the feat of last season will be nigh on impossible.
“Five trophies will be very hard to achieve again by any player or club,” he added.
“Despite the three departures, it’s certainly a chance for lads to step up and with the quality in depth we have. While we will miss them on and off the field, I am more than happy with where the current squad are.”