Harlequins wing Tim Visser is pulling no punches; securing a place in the Premiership play-offs and lifting the European Challenge Cup are the club’s goals this season.
Quins begin their 150th campaign against top-flight newcomers Bristol in Saturday’s London Double Header at Twickenham, aiming to drastically improve upon the past two campaigns which failed to yield top-six finishes.
A new coaching set-up is in place, headed by John Kingston, following the departure of Conor O’Shea to take charge of Italy, and includes former back-row powerhouse Nick Easter and ex-England forwards guru Graham Rowntree.
O’Shea’s final act as Quins boss was a galling European Challenge Cup final defeat to Montpellier in May, a competition which offers a route to silverware this term but one Visser wants to see removed from his side’s fixture list.
“We want to be in the latter stages of all competitions. The European Challenge Cup is very realistic. We want to go one better than last year, we want to win it,” he told City A.M.
“That also brings with it the fact we need to get back to Champions Cup rugby, whether it be through the Challenge Cup or the Premiership. We should be playing Champions Cup rugby this season and we’re all disappointed not to be. That’s a major goal.
“We want to be in those play-off spots. As a club, we should be in the top six, pushing for the top four.”
As part of their plan to reassert themselves as a Premiership force, Scotland back Visser admits Quins intend to showcase a tweaked style of play in the coming months with a greater emphasis on pragmatism.
“We’ve made a few slight changes to the way we want to play. We were maybe a little bit too ambitious in the past and shot ourselves in the foot,” added the Holland-born 29-year-old.
“The Quins style is in our DNA, it’s what the club is known for and it will always be important, but moving on in professional rugby you have got to make the right decisions at the right time.
“We have potentially been guilty of overplaying a little bit in our own half in the past. We’ve addressed that during pre-season and it’s something we want to incorporate into our game.
“It’s not a case of taking the enthusiasm away from the way we approach the game but it’s important that we make those right decisions at the right time.”
The first step for Quins on the road to achieving their top-four goal is Twickenham, not necessarily the ideal venue for a Scotland international.
“For me, it’s the enemy zone,” said Visser. “No, it’s brilliant to start the season there and we’re coming up against a side which has been playing in the Championship with a Premiership squad.”