'Second dad' O'Shea looking to leave Quins on a high with Challenge glory
Published 13/05/2016 | 02:30
Harlequins started the build-up to tonight's European Challenge Cup final aiming to lift the trophy for "second dad" Conor O'Shea, but will arrive in Lyon paying tribute to academy prop Seb Adeniran-Olule.
Captain Danny Care hailed departing rugby director O'Shea's paternal influence, but that motivation fades after Adeniran-Olule's death this week in a car crash.
A minute's silence will be held in memory of the 20-year-old before kick-off in Quins' European final clash with Montpellier, and the squad will wear black armbands.
O'Shea's fatherly instincts will doubtless have come to the fore after the shock loss of Adeniran-Olule, and skipper Care hailed the former Ireland full-back, who will take charge of Quins one last time before joining Italy.
"Conor came in at an incredibly tough time, the club was probably at an all-time low, and a few people probably questioned why he was coming into the club," said Care of O'Shea, who joined Harlequins after the Bloodgate scandal that saw Dean Richards depart.
"He saw a lot of potential, he saw a squad he thought could do some special things. With his guidance and some good players, we have had a very successful six years under his tenure.
"He's been brilliant for the club - a lot of players have developed through him, and gone on to reach international honours.
"He's always got a smile on his face so the club's definitely going to miss that. It's his honesty that makes him such a great coach, and he's the most positive person you'll ever meet.
"He doesn't react too quickly to adversity, he's a clever bloke, he sees the bigger picture and he's been great for us. He's been like a second dad for a lot of us, he's looked after us and guided us.
"He'll always go the extra mile, that's the type of bloke he is.
"He'll go the extra mile to make sure everyone in the squad is comfortable and happy and he's a guy that his door's wide open. If you've ever got a problem you pick up the phone or go and speak to him. You've got that respect from him, and he respects you."
Harlequins are back to full strength following last weekend's 62-24 home Premiership thumping at the hands of Exeter.
Prop Joe Marler returns as expected after his two-week ban for kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head, while Montpellier boast South Africa internationals Frans Steyn and Pierre Spies in a bruising line-up.
The winners qualify for the Champions Cup.
Harlequins v Montpellier,
Live, BT Sport/Sky, 8.0