ABU DHABI // The spectators who fill the temporary stand at Emirates Palace this evening may not recognise all the players. LondonWasps and Harlequins have been deprived of their best-known players by international call-ups ahead of the Six Nations championship.
However, Lawrence Dallaglio, the Wasps director and former England captain, believes some of the players lining up in Abu Dhabi could make the trip to the World Cup in New Zealand later this year.
"Tom Varndell [the Wasps winger] has been performing really well and is one of the leading try-scorers in the United Kingdom," Dallaglio said. "He seems to have been overlooked by the England management at this stage. That is unfortunate, but I'm sure it won't be long, if he keeps playing as well as he is playing, before he gets the recognition I believe he deserves.
"The centre position is not an area of huge strength and depth in the England set up. Dominic Waldouck was talked about last season and the start of this season as someone who potentially might come through. He had the setback of a few injuries but has worked hard to get back and I'm sure will be keen to impress. He has a very bright future."
The nominal away team, Harlequins, have plenty of incentives of their own, as they are pursuing silverware on three fronts.
"This place is a fabulous tourist attraction and with that come distractions everywhere, but we've done well and stayed focused ahead of what is an important game for us," said Conor O'Shea, the Quins director of rugby.
"The boys have had to alter training slightly, given how different the conditions are but you can barely get them off the training field here. They just love to play out there and it's not hard to see why."