DUBAI // The Arabian Gulf winger Taif al Delamie's participation in next month's Asian Five Nations is again in jeopardy after he aggravated a hamstring injury by playing against Ireland, his mother's homeland, in the World Cup Sevens. The prospect of the winger bolstering the Gulf's squad for the competition initially looked bright after he secured a month's extension to his four-month sabbatical from his job in Dublin to stay in Dubai.
However, he was so keen to play against Ireland in Saturday's Bowl quarter-final he played through the pain of an injury that his coach, Mike Lunjevich, had already stated would rule him out of the rest of the tournament. Al Delamie said: "I wasn't 100 per cent going into it, but I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to play against Ireland. "The coach said, 'Will you be able to give it a half?' The answer was definitely going to be yes."
Al Delamie, an Omani national who has spent much of his life in Ireland, is a personal fitness instructor for Sports Medicine Ireland. Despite the global financial downturn, his bosses have sanctioned his extended break from work as, "from a client's point of view, it looks good on the CV to have played in the World Cup and the Five Nations". The hobbling winger had played with a number of his Irish counterparts, such as Tom Gleeson, who was a teammate of his as a Munster schoolboy.
Despite the familiarity, there was a marked lack of banter on the field, especially when set against what had gone before in the Gulf's pool matches. "They were fine, especially after playing against New Zealand and Italy, who give it a lot of chat on the field," added the squat winger, who picked a fight with the biggest player in the New Zealand team, Lote Raikabula, on day two. "If you are going to do it, you have to do it right. He was giving it a bit of abuse during the tackle, and you are not going to stand for that. You have to give as good as you take, so I went right back at him."
Al Delamie, who has a broad Irish accent, strongly refuted the idea that he has more in common with the Irish players than he did his own team. "We are a really tight-knit bunch of people," he said. "I know a few of the Irish players on a passing basis, but the Gulf are a good group of friends and it is totally different taking the field with the Gulf than it would have been with Ireland, especially as my dad is from Oman."