Taif al Delamie, the Omani centre, was so intent on leading the Arabian Gulf's bid for glory in the Asian Five Nations, he refused reconstructive surgery following a serious knee injury five months ago. The player, 23, has been restored to duty ahead of the regional side's return to the top tier of Asian competition, which begins when they travel to Kazakhstan on April 24.
Delamie has been a mainstay of the side for the past two years, yet looked an unlikely participant in this season's main event after snapping an anterior cruciate ligament on the eve of the Dubai Rugby Sevens in December. He hastened his return to the playing field by opting to let the injury heal naturally, rather than going under the surgeon's knife. He is not exactly going against doctor's advice with the rehabilitation he has chosen. His day job is as a physiotherapist specialising in sport injuries, so he could diagnose himself - although he did seek a second opinion from one of his work colleagues.
"It is a pretty good job to have when you are recovering from injury," said Delamie, who made the most of a break in the Arabian Gulf's training schedule by flying to visit his parents in Muscat yesterday. "I didn't have the reconstructive surgery because, if I did, it would mean that I wouldn't be able to play in these games. "One in three people can get by without having the surgery. Austin Healey [the former England back] played without having it done. You can get by if you make sure you strengthen the muscles around the knee.
"After the first three weeks, the physio in charge of my clinic said 'Let's hold off on the surgery', because it would mean missing these games, and it looked like I was doing OK without it." Despite being the only Arab in the Gulf's 22-man squad for the Asian Five Nations, Delamie is one of three foreign-based players - along with Jonny MacDonald and James Love. He picked up his injury while playing for his club side, Lansdowne, in the Republic of Ireland, where he lives and works.
He flew back to the UAE in time to play in the Gulf's 41-28 win over the Gulf Barbarians in Al Ain on Friday. Twelve months ago he became the first Arab national to captain the regional side, when they sealed their return to the top flight of Asian competition by beating Chinese Taipei in Dubai. Having been forced to miss the Sevens, he is intent on making up for lost time. "I was dying to get back into it," he added.
"I came out here to watch the boys play at the Sevens, and it was really hard to sit and watch, and not be involved." firstname.lastname@example.org