Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Imad Reyal, centre, has moved from Abu Dhabi Harlequins to Jebel Ali Dragons, his third team in as many seasons. Elite Step
Imad Reyal, centre, has moved from Abu Dhabi Harlequins to Jebel Ali Dragons, his third team in as many seasons.  Elite Step

Imad Reyal’s acquisition will fill Dragons’ void until Al Delamie’s return

Jebel Ali Dragons secure sought after signing of Imad Reyal from their title-rivals Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

DUBAI // Imad Reyal may have proved as elusive in the transfer market as he is on the playing field during this summer’s recruitment drive in domestic rugby union.

However, the Sri Lankan fullback is now expected to start the new season in the blue of Jebel Ali Dragons in Friday’s encounter with his previous club, Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

The UAE national team flier, who is arguably the best finisher in the league, was in high demand during the off-season.

He had intimated, in August, that he would be happy to stay with Harlequins, whom he played for last season, if they could provide him with transport from his home in Dubai.

However, he has since been training with the Premiership champions at Jebel Ali, and follows Murray Strang, the fly-half, as a second significant signing from Quins. The Dragons will become Reyal’s third club in as many seasons after he opted against returning to Dubai Exiles, where he first came to prominence.

“I’ve been to training with the Dragons and I am loving it at the moment,” Reyal said. “They have good players who have been playing together for a few years as well as a couple of new players, too.

“They are looking very sharp.”

Reyal was a prolific try-scorer in matches against the Dragons for Harlequins last season.

However, the capital club had to do without him at one crucial point last season. Reyal dropped out of the Quins squad for the Gulf League competition at the Dubai Sevens at the final hour to play in a social tournament, instead.

In his absence, Harlequins lost out in the final in front of 45,000 people against the side he has now joined.

If he is selected to make his debut against them Friday, he may suffer a frosty reacquaintance with his former teammates.

“If I am in the squad I’ll do my best to play well, but it is going to be hard playing against my old team,” he said.

Reyal’s arrival will go some way to offsetting the absence of Taif Al Delamie from the early exchanges of the new campaign. The Omani winger was one of the key figures as Dragons secured a triple crown of titles last season, and has taken over from Paul Hart as the new first-team captain.

However, the former Arabian Gulf captain was Wednesday waiting on results of an MRI scan for a recent injury to the same knee he had reconstructive surgery on in the past. Despite the uncertainty surrounding his own situation, Al Delamie has high hopes for his first campaign as captain.

He acknowledges he has a tough act to follow after Hart’s success last season, but still feels there is room for improvement.

“We obviously had a great season last season but if you ask any of the players involved, we still underperformed through a lot of the campaign,” Al Delamie said.

“We never felt like we reached our potential last year. Although it was a great season in terms of winning medals and trophies, performance-wise there was a lot to improve on.”

Team profile

Coach Ross Mills

Captain Taif Al Delamie

Key player Sean Crombie. Former Scotland sevens international was unstoppable after joining a week before last season’s Premiership final.

In a nutshell Banished memories of years spent falling at the final hurdle by sweeping the board last season. They have strengthened in the off-season.

Friday fixtures

Saracens v Hurricanes, Zayed Sports City, 7pm

Dragons v Harlequins, Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence, 7pm

Wasps v Exiles, The Sevens, 7pm

pradley@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National