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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 06:13 GMT 07:13 UK
Mehrtens keen to remain at Quins
By Bryn Palmer

Andrew Mehrtens in action for Harlequins
Mehrtens scored 967 points in 70 Tests for New Zealand
Andrew Mehrtens kicks off his first Premiership campaign with Harlequins on Saturday hoping to prolong his stay in England beyond the end of the season.

"I would certainly like to stay on if my body is up to it," the former All Blacks star told BBC Sport.

"Nobody likes moving really so ideally I'd like to go well enough that Quins would want to re-sign me.

"I love the club, The Stoop is a great rugby stadium and the camaraderie in the team is fantastic."

Mehrtens signed a two-year deal with Quins when he decided to end his prolific career with Canterbury, the Crusaders and the All Blacks last year.

There is not a game I would go into this season thinking we can't possibly win

Andrew Mehrtens
His first season was spent helping the Londoners out of National League One, as well as finding time to marry his fiancÚ Jacqueline back in New Zealand in February.

"I have loved it," he says of his move to England. "It has been easier for me to settle with the rugby and having a routine, whereas Jacqueline had to go back to New Zealand a few times to organize everything for our wedding.

"So it is almost like the first year was a bit of a feeler and this is our settling-in period now."

Mehrtens spent part of his off-season enjoying a belated honeymoon in the Greek Islands, but also took in some of the traditional sights of an English summer.

He went to Wimbledon, watching Andre Agassi's last match in SW19, and was also a spectator as Tiger Woods won his latest Open title at Hoylake.

"I haven't really had the chance to check out England in the summer properly yet though," he adds. "Places like the Cotswolds and the Lake District are still high on my priority list, even if they will have to take a back seat for a while."

On Saturday, Mehrtens will be back on familiar ground at Twickenham, where he tasted victory (1999 World Cup), defeat (2002) and a draw (1997) with New Zealand.

Quins are involved in the opening game of the Premiership season against London Irish, part one of a double-header that also features Saracens against Wasps.

It is a really good environment here, second to none

Andrew Mehrtens
Director of rugby Dean Richards has spoken bullishly of competing in the top half of the table, and Mehrtens is of a similar opinion.

"I don't think it is too unrealistic," he said. "The skills are going to be higher and the speed of the game quicker but I still think a team that adapts and plays the conditions effectively - both the weather and the other team - will come through.

"There were a lot of times last year when we had to adapt to the way we approached things, against teams with different styles that we didn't know a lot about. I think that will stand us in good stead in terms of reacting to what is in front of us.

"The strength of the squad is good and when I look through our team list and the other team lists there is not a game I would go into this season thinking we can't possibly win. It is important we have that belief and confidence."

Quins should certainly not lack for class in midfield with Durban-born Mehrtens alongside two other South African natives in England's Stuart Abbott and Wales' Hal Luscombe.

And such is his enthusiasm for his new surroundings, it would be a surprise if the genial Mehrtens was not still parading his talents in south-west London 12 months hence.

"It is a really good environment here, second to none," he added. "Nothing I have experienced in the past I would say is better than this."

When you consider Mehrtens has played with some of the most successful teams and greatest players in modern rugby history, that is quite a compliment.

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