DUBAI // Quihen Marais will make his international rugby union sevens debut for the UAE in Goa this weekend after impressing on his maiden outing with the team in Jebel Ali on Friday.
The 18-year-old centre was the star turn in a UAE side who won the first leg of the new UAE Sevens Series, beating the host club, Jebel Ali Dragons, in the final.
Marais received glowing reviews from his senior colleagues, as well as Wayne Marsters, the coach, and he could be a surprise selection in the UAE squad for the Dubai Rugby Sevens in three weeks' time.
The strongly built centre, who is a graduate of the Arabian Gulf academy, is South African but has played his senior rugby in this country with the Al Ain Amblers. Marsters, who termed Marais and Shane Rutherford, the Dubai Hurricanes forward, as his side's outstanding players at the weekend, said the chance to play at Jebel Ali was a valuable experience ahead of bigger tests to come.
"It had a real sevens season feel to it," Marsters said of the new, four week sevens season. "Players can forget about XVs for a while now and concentrate on sevens, using Dubai Sevens as the pinnacle."
The team also hope to embellish the growing sense of togetherness they have fostered with the Emirati development squad on tour in India this weekend.
"We had separate teams [for the competition at Jebel Ali], but we regard it as one squad," Sean Hurley, the long-serving UAE player, said of the association with the UAE Shaheen squad.
"It was an A and a B team, but we were cheering each other on during the matches."