Harlequins warm up in Abu Dhabi for English Premiership final

The team used a training camp in Abu Dhabi to prepare, and hope some of Manchester City's luck rubs on to them.

The Harlequins used their time in Abu Dhabi to relax and work ahead of the big game.
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Elite rugby side Harlequins are hoping the "Abu Dhabi effect" rubs on to them ahead of their first-ever English Premiership final against the Leicester Tigers at Twickenham next week.

The Quins, sponsored by Etihad Airways, have been training at Zayed Sports City as part of a four-day training camp before they head back to England tomorrow and continue the build-up to their biggest game in recent history.

And it turns out Manchester City's Premier League triumph has parallels that stretch beyond the Abu Dhabi connection.

"Leicester are an incredible team, they've made eight finals in a row," said Conor O'Shea, the Quins' director of rugby and a former Ireland fullback.

"There's all the talk out here of Manchester City pipping Manchester United for the title and they're sponsored by Etihad as well. It's like the Abu Dhabi effect. For us, for Manchester United, read Leicester. They are the standard-bearers, the team to be shot down. If we're to achieve this we're going to have to beat the Manchester United of rugby."

Conditions at Twickenham a week tomorrow will be a world away from the 40-plus temperatures the side have been training in. But the trip has been an ideal opportunity to train and bond.

"It's been a mix of relaxation and work," said O'Shea. "As a group we can spend time together in each other's company and relax.

"The boys struggled this morning, they did an hour's session and then gym work. It was tough doing the conditioning work. But that's why this week is so important. The lads have enjoyed it, it's a big group and that is why living with each other, rather than going home for a week to different places, is very important for us."

Much like City, O'Shea hopes the season and the final is the start of bigger things; they finished top of the regular season this year one point ahead of Leicester. Last year, mirroring City's FA Cup triumph, they won the Amlin European Challenge Cup.

"Hopefully this is just the start," O'Shea said. "We're not here to just be a team that is around for a year. We've got a great group of young players who we believe will get better and stronger. Last year was setting out on that path and getting the first bit of silverware. This year we've made massive strides and made further statements to where we want to go."