‘It feels like he’s been there forever’: John Kingston settled as Harlequins head coach says David Flatman

The new Aviva Premiership season will see a new face at the helm of Harlequins as John Kingston takes over the reins from the departed Conor O’Shea, but former England international David Flatman is confident no disruption will ensue.

In January, Harlequins announced that O’Shea would be leaving the Stoop at the end of the season after six years as director of rugby, and two months later, the former London Irish fullback was named the new head coach of the Italian national side.

Kingston will step up to O’Shea’s former role after eight years as head coach, with Graham Rowntree and Nick Easter joining him as forwards and defence coaches respectively.

And Flatman insists Kingston’s appointments will see the start of good things for Harlequins, as they look to push on from last season’s seventh-place finish.

“I think at Quins, not much changes with John Kingston going to the top, he’s been there for a long time,” said Flatman, who was speaking at the SSE Next Generation roadshow in Cardiff.

“I think he was there for a while, then he left, then he came back, and it feels like he’s been there forever, to me.

“Not a huge amount will change. Nick Easter doing a bit of coaching will be interesting, but he has experience.

“Whatever room he’s in, he’s the alpha male, so he’s used to telling everyone what to do, and of course, in terms of leading by example then he might be the best player Quins have ever had, or pretty close to it.

“I think he’ll go down really, really, well, and I think his manner with the players will go well, they will all continue to like him, continue to respect him, which doesn’t always happen with ex-players.

“I think it looks good for Quins, it’s reasonably exciting without too much change.”

The new Aviva Premiership season kicks off on September 2, with Harlequins set to welcome Bristol Rugby to Twickenham the following day.

The two sides have not played since March 2009 – the season in which Bristol were last in the top flight of English rugby – when Quins claimed a 17-14 victory away at the Memorial Ground.

And as the Premiership enters its 29th year, Flatman insists that despite its critics, there really is no better competition in club rugby.

“The Premiership is dominating, it is funny the way it goes, one year you will have two Irish teams and two French teams in the European semi-finals and everyone is saying the Premiership is done and dusted, it’s all over, why can’t we compete?” he said.

“Then a year later there are no Irish leagues and people are questioning that, it’s funny how it’s quite cyclical and people tend to get a bit emotional and reactive about these things.

“But the Premiership has been in good nick for a long time, and it is in especially good nick now.”

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