DUBAI // The strength of the revival of the Dubai Hurricanes as a leading force in Gulf rugby will be tested this afternoon when they face Doha in the Gulf Top Six at The Sevens.
Up until two season ago the Hurricanes were unquestionably the top side in the region, but they have endured such a fallow run since that it was often doubtful whether they were even the best side at their own home ground.
Injuries, unavailability and the retirements of senior players and coaching staff all left their mark, but their start to the new campaign suggests the corner may have been turned.
After just two weeks of the new season they are already the only side in UAE rugby to have an undefeated record still intact, which includes an opening day win away to the Abu Dhabi Harlequins, the side who had usurped their position as No 1 in the Emirates.
Brian Allen, the Hurricanes coach, puts the turnaround down to an intense pre-season conditioning programme "which used Super 14 and Gulf Men's standards and goals".
"The programmes were completed all over the world as people went on holidays and still kept training logs," the Australian coach said.
"It is good to see the Hurricanes back and competitive. We wanted a fast start to the season as traditionally we have taken time to get into gear.
"All I want to do is to put winning smiles back on all the players faces by winning titles. There is still a big journey to take and we have made our desired fast start."
The Hurricanes made light of the absence of Duncan Murray, their influential centre, who was away on Arabian Gulf duty, as they beat Al Ain Amblers 29-7 last Friday.
The Dubai Exiles, their fellow Sevens tenants, will also be aiming to build on an opening round success in the Gulf Top Six today when they host Bahrain, last season's Gulf Premiership champions. The Exiles had their own pre-season optimism checked in the league last week when they were beaten 22-19 by the Dubai Dragons, whom they had beaten seven days earlier. The Dragons travel to Abu Dhabi this afternoon.