x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dan Boatwright's attitude of gratitude

UAE and Dubai Hurricanes prop, who scored his first ever Test try against Sri Lanka last Saturday, feels lucky to play at this level.

Dan Boatwright will owe a memorable last 12 months to his commitment and work ethic.
Dan Boatwright will owe a memorable last 12 months to his commitment and work ethic.

DUBAI // A quantity surveyor who would have returned to his native UK long ago were it not for rugby, is looking forward to the time when he can regale his grandchildren with a story of the day he scored the first ever Test try for the UAE.

Dan Boatwright capped a dream 12 months in which he won three trophies with the Dubai Hurricanes, became an international rugby player and was married by splashing over for the first try against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

While the UAE had hoped for more from their trip to Colombo, his try formed the platform for a 13-13 draw which could prove crucial in the final reckoning in the Asian Five Nations.

"There'll be a few people I won't let forget," Boatwright, the Hurricanes prop, said of his try. "Hopefully I'll be talking to the grandkids about it one day."

The Londoner was an apt scorer given the extreme weather conditions in Colombo, where the line markings had mostly been washed away by monsoon rains. His distinctive surname stems from the boatbuilding profession.

He benefited from a neat inside pass from Scott Kerr, the Dubai Dragons forward who was his roommate for the trip to Sri Lanka, before touching down.

"It was all down to the people around me," Boatwright said. "It was a big relief to get the score. We wanted to go on and take the victory, but it wasn't to be."

A tougher test is likely to await the UAE front row when they face Kazakhstan in Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

However, far from being daunted about the prospect of facing one of Asia's most intimidating packs, Boatwight, 30 years of age, is just grateful to be here.

"I never played a fantastically high level back in the UK," he said. "It is something you always aspire to, but never really think you will do. I didn't expect to be here for three years anyway. I didn't think I would qualify, then when the three years [residency qualifying period] were up I thought I should get involved. It has been an educating six months."

His rise has been a triumph for commitment. When Brian Allen, the erstwhile Dubai Hurricanes coach, introduced an exacting strength and conditioning regime for his players last summer, Boatwright was among his star pupils.

The prop even maintained his training log while on honeymoon in Malaysia.

"We had a ferocious pre-season last year, a weights and a running programme, and he did it all," Allen said. "Even through his wedding and honeymoon he was sending reports back saying he had done his programmes.

"He then demanded a maintenance programme through the season which we gave him and he did it. "[The UAE coaches] then really upped the ante in terms of physical fitness, and he responded to all of it."

Boatwright's work ethic is sure to appeal to Bruce Birtwistle, the UAE coach. "We are conscious at this level of football that we lift our effort and work rate, and a lot of the guys proved last week they are more than capable of playing at this level," Birtwistle said.

pradley@thenational.ae