x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Captain says opponents overlook the Dubai Exiles at their own risk

They may be in a rebuilding phase, but Dubai Exiles captain Gareth Venter says his side will capture a scalp this season if teams have written them off, says Paul Radley.

Gareth Venter, centre, is happy with the progress the Dubai Exiles are making.
Gareth Venter, centre, is happy with the progress the Dubai Exiles are making.

Gareth Venter, the Dubai Exiles captain, has warned the Abu Dhabi Harlequins, as well as the rest of the UAE Premiership elite, to write-off his side at their peril.

Dubai's oldest club face a daunting task when they travel to the capital today to face the undefeated Quins.

The table-toppers put 55 points on their city rivals Saracens last Friday, despite missing most of their first-choice backline.

Patrick Hegarty and Imad Reyal, the former Exile, will be restored to the Quins line-up today having returned from international sevens duty, while the outstanding Jeremy Manning is also back at fly-half.

The strength of the resources available to Quins contrasts markedly with an Exiles side who are still in the early phases of rebuilding. Just eight senior players attended their first training session ahead of this season, but Venter is confident the club are heading in the right direction.

"The growth in Exiles has been good," he said. "The guys are there because they want to play rugby. They are not driven by status and arrogance any more.

"And our performances on the field have been very good apart from a disappointing second-half performance against Dubai Wasps in our opening run out."

The Exiles have rallied since that surprise opening day defeat to the Wasps.

They bounced back with a bonus-point win against the Abu Dhabi Saracens, followed by another bonus point accrued in losing to the champions Dubai Hurricanes by less than seven points.

Now they are targeting a more significant achievement this afternoon.

"As Jan [Venter, the Exiles coach] says, we are not bad losers, but we love winning," said the captain.

"If we walk on the park looking for a narrow defeat we have lost the plot. We are going to pick up a scalp somewhere along the line in the Premiership. If anyone underestimates us it will be to their peril."

Despite the riches at his disposal, Chris Davies, the Quins director of rugby, acknowledges there is a realistic threat posed by today's visitors, led by the likes of the in-form Brett Williams and James Lovelace.

"It is going to be a big test as this is potentially a big banana skin," Davies said.

"Jan Venter has been doing a very good job with them and knowing him I can imagine he has instilled a hard edge in the way they play."

pradley@thenational.ae

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