Harlequins coach Howard Graham admits the Stoop outfit did not get their recruitment right over the last couple of the seasons and they paid the price in the end, writes Charlie Talbot-Smith.

But this summer they have more than made up for it and Graham insists Quins are now ready to challenge at the sharp end of the Aviva Premiership table again.

Director of rugby Conor O’Shea has brought intwo British & Irish Lions in Jamie Roberts and Adam Jones, as well Australian international James Horwill and Scotland winger Tim Visser.

Those marquee signings are in marked difference to the last couple of years that saw O’Shea and co largely keep faith with the side that won the Premiership title back in 2012.

But last season Quins finished eighth in the table, missing out on European Champions Cup Rugby for the first time since the 2010/11 campaign.

And Graham admits that as the injuries mounted, the Quins squad was exposed and needed bolstering this summer.

“We have recruited better than we have in the last few seasons,” he said.

“In certain positions we looked thin. There’s only so many players and everyone wants the world class players.

“We’ve bulked out in the areas that we need to, we have a bit more depth in those key positions that weren’t as strong in the last couple of years.

“We have sat back in the past and thought ‘we will keep going with the team that won the Premiership’ but Conor has really turned that around and done some graft.

“You need your leaders on the field, we have been developing that side of it with the young boys and you want people who are going to drag you forward. People for the young boys to tuck in behind and learn from, someone to follow into battle.

“For me it is about having that mix, we want to bring the boys through and that is in our remit without a doubt and Conor is right behind it and we have great percentages in the past of boys who have come through our academy but you need some experience on the pitch.”

With the likes of Chris Robshaw, Joe Marler and Mike Brown likely to be busy with England at the World Cup when the new season starts, Quins would have been hoping for a friendly draw as the new fixtures were announced on Friday.

Instead Quins face clashes with Wasps, Bath and Leicester Tigers in their opening three rounds but Graham is adamant they can hit the ground running.

“There aren’t many easy games now,” added the Academy and Sevens coach. “People marked London Welsh down as a comfortable fixture but at the beginning of the season that was the same for Newcastle but boy they turned it around with recruiting. There were no easy games.

“Our start is difficult with Wasps, Leicester away and Bath away but we will look to hit the ground running. They will be missing some players as well if the international side do well so we will see where we get to after their first few games.”

* Tickets for the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series are now on sale. For full details see premiershiprugby.com/7s