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Scarlets 14:40 Ulster

Heineken Cup: Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea targets Scarlets on opening weekend

Last Updated: 08/10/13 4:52pm

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Conor O'Shea: Admits Harlequins have started the season below-par

Conor O'Shea: Admits Harlequins have started the season below-par

Sky Bet

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Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea is hoping a change of competition will mark a reverse in fortunes when Quins welcome Scarlets in their Heineken Cup opener on Saturday.

Last season's Aviva Premiership semi-finalists have made a slow start to the new domestic season, losing three of their opening five fixtures including recent back-to-back defeats to Saracens and London Irish.

European rugby arrives at the Stoop this weekend, though, and Quins chief O'Shea admits the change in focus is a welcome one for the club.

He told Sky Sports: "We've had a difficult couple of weeks. We've lost the last two matches so it's (the Heineken Cup) come at a great time for us. To play Scarlets and then a trip to Clermont next week will be nice so there's a real buzz about the group."

Quins lost in the quarter-finals to Munster last year but are favourites to progress from Pool 4, where they will face French duo Racing Metro and Clermont Auvergne, as well as Saturday's Welsh opponents, Scarlets.

The truncated nature of the Heineken Cup schedule means Quins will face Scarlets and Clermont in successive weeks but they will not face Racing until December 7.

O'Shea has therefore urged his players to hit the ground running over the next fortnight.

"We want to impose ourselves right from the word go on Saturday," he added. "This two-game window is huge. You don't want to play yourself out of it, we want to start positively.

"Scarlets have massive European tradition in terms of how many times they have reached the competition. It's a huge pool and to think past that is ridiculous. We feel that as a group we have started the season way too slowly and we want to put that right this weekend."

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