Wilkes sets the standard for Quins
Harlequins RL could do worse than take a leaf out of their front-row forward Oliver Wilkes' book as they seek to eradicate the inconsistency that has so far dogged their rollercoaster Engage Super League campaign.
The much-travelled Wilkes has been a model of consistency since he joined the Londoners on a two-year contract 18 months ago and throughout his two seasons before that with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Wilkes has the longest run of consecutive appearances in Super League - he will play his 56th successive match against Salford City Reds at the Twickenham Stoop this evening - but that tells only half the story of a player who has missed just one match in the last four seasons.
Not that Wilkes, who turns 31 on Monday, has completely avoided injury absences during an eventful career that began in Sheffield in 1998 and took in stops at Huddersfield, Keighley, Leigh, Whitehaven, Wigan, Widnes and Wakefield before arriving in London.
"I look after myself and do the right things, eat the right things," he said. "But I've had my fair share of injuries - three shoulder operations, a few broken bones, a plate in my leg.
"So it's not been all been singing and dancing. It's a tough game and injuries are part of the sport."
Wilkes, who by his own reckoning is just seven games away from 300, comes from the Cumbrian town of Ulverston which also produced Stan Laurel, but he is now a proud resident of the capital.
"I do like London and so does my wife Catherine," said the Scotland international. "If they come up with another contract, I would seriously contemplate staying.
"I've had a few different clubs but generally I've moved to better myself and I'm enjoying it here."
Harlequins will look to end a run of seven matches without a win when they take on fellow strugglers Salford and Wilkes says the key is to get rid of the slow starts they have made to their recent games.
"We've given too much away in the first 10 or 15 minutes of matches," he said. "At the start of the year we were thumping sides in the first 10 or 15 minutes.
"We know we'll come back in matches but we need to make a better start to each game."
Quins are boosted by the return of former Manly second rower Chris Bailey, who has made a big impression in his first season in Super League but missed last Monday's defeat at Hull KR with a foot injury.
"He's been outstanding and really lifted us," said Wilkes. "We missed him last week."
Bailey has been denied the chance to play against his older brother Phil, who moved from Wigan Warriors to Salford in the close season but announced his retirement in March after failing to overcome an Achilles injury.
In this evening's other game, Huddersfield Giants have the chance to go three points clear when they take on Catalan Dragons in Perpignan.
The Giants have won on their last two visits to the Gilbert Brutus Stadium but the Catalans are on a roll after winning three and drawing one of their last four matches.