Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea has no regrets over resting his England boys providing they fire his team to the Premiership play-offs and the Amlin Cup semi-finals.
Captain Chris Robshaw, Six Nations player of the tournament Mike Brown and scrum half Danny Care sat out Saturday’s 39-17 defeat to Saracens at Wembley, which saw Quins slip to sixth in the table.
O’Shea’s men host London Irish on Saturday before next week’s Amlin Cup trip to Stade Francais and key April clashes with Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers on the domestic front.
And the Stoop chief is confident his returning stars – in harness with his rapidly maturing squad – will keep his team in the hunt for silverware until the final day of the campaign.
“Rugby is a sport and you cannot treat players like a commodity and keep asking them to go out and perform time and time again,” he said.
“We shot ourselves in the foot on Saturday by giving away too many soft tries.
“We’ve had several high quality performances from the young players in our squad and they have learnt a tremendous amount this season.
“The return of our England boys will give us a massive boost and barring our well-documented injury problems, we are at full strength.”
He added: “We are behind the eight ball a little bit, but our mind-set has to be to go out and win our final five matches.
“There will be twists and turns along the way, but we are a tight group and will keep fighting until the bitter end.”