There have been a number of new changes at the Abu Dhabi Harlequins ahead of the new season.
Abu Dhabi Quins prepare to reclaim the crown
As if the 40°C summer heat is not enough to concern them, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins players have an extra reason to approach pre-season training with trepidation today.
The capital's leading club will begin their quest to reclaim the status of the UAE's top side from the Dubai Hurricanes, the Premiership champions, when their players return to training at Zayed Sports City.
The chances are they are in for a tough time. As part of the fresh start at the club, who have undergone a broad revamp in many senior positions, they have appointed specialist fitness consultants, Haddin's Fitness, on a two-month contract to oversee pre-season training.
The sessions will be run by Mike Haddin, an Australian, who has appeared at scrum-half for Quins in recent seasons. "Haddin's work with elite sporting groups, and their ability to provide sports specific fitness training and development, made them a perfect fit for us," Andy Cole, the new club chairman, said.
Cole's return is another significant change. The former Arabian Gulf forward has been one of the longest-serving administrators in UAE rugby and was recently the chairman of the Gulf union and the Dubai Wasps.
He has assumed the role from Rory Greene and Richard Harris, Greene's predecessor as chairman, has also returned to act as the new vice-chairman for the Quins.
The club have much work to do to haul in the Hurricanes, who were the outstanding side in the UAE last season, at the summit of club rugby.
They also have a new challenge to deal with as they are no longer the sole Abu Dhabi-based club involved in domestic competition.
The Abu Dhabi Saracens are gearing up for their first season after being accepted into the league.
The other major change at Quins is the installation of Renier Els as the captain. The loose forward has only had one full season at the club, despite living in the city for a number of years.
However, he made such an impression in his maiden campaign that he ended up as part of the UAE squad, and he was one of the national team's standout performers in the HSBC Asian Five Nations tournament.
"We are really looking forward to moving into pre-season training and to start working on improving our performance on the field across all teams in the 2011/12 season," Els, who is a technical supervisor on a wildlife farm, said. "With Zayed Sports City being such an amazing facility, it is time to stamp our authority on it as the home of rugby in Abu Dhabi.
"We as a club, and me personally, are really looking forward to winning a trophy or two."