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Harlequins to pay tribute to Adeniran-Alule before Challenge Cup final

Published 12/05/2016

Conor O'Shea will take charge of Harlequins for the final time on Friday night
Conor O'Shea will take charge of Harlequins for the final time on Friday night

Harlequins started the build-up to Friday's European Challenge Cup final aiming to lift the trophy for "second dad" Conor O'Shea, but will arrive in Lyon paying tribute to prop Seb Adeniran-Olule.

Captain Danny Care hailed departing rugby director O'Shea's paternal influence on the Twickenham outfit, but that motivation doubtless fades after young prop Adeniran-Olule's death this week in a car crash.

A minute's silence will be held in memory of Adeniran-Olule before kick-off in Quins' European final clash with Montpellier in Lyon on Friday night.

The Harlequins squad will wear black armbands to honour a 20-year-old loosehead prop who had a bright rugby future ahead.

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 he came in 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 in the squad 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, but we wish him all the best.

"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 rampant 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.

"It's going to be as ferocious as a Test match," said Care.

"We've got to match fire with fire and hopefully use a few tactics of our own to create a few opportunities in attack."

Speaking at a press conference after arriving in Lyon, Care said: "Seb was a great lad, who will be sorely missed.

"We owe him and we ourselves a good performance."

And O'Shea added: "What happened on Monday was heartbreaking for everyone in the club.

"In more than ways than one, they will be playing with Seb in their hearts tomorrow.

"That is emotional. To say it was upsetting to see a life lost like that would be an understatement, but we will play with him in our hearts."

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