x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai Hurricanes stay upbeat in the face of adversity

Injuries and departures have pushed the resources of Dubai Hurricanes to the limit this season.

Greg Thompson, left in action for the UAE, has been a big loss for the Dubai Hurricanes of late, being ruled out with a fractured cheekbone, the latest in a number of injuries for the club.
Greg Thompson, left in action for the UAE, has been a big loss for the Dubai Hurricanes of late, being ruled out with a fractured cheekbone, the latest in a number of injuries for the club.

England's 2003 Rugby World Cup victory was obviously well-received back at home. But for some time afterwards the Webb Ellis trophy seemed like kryptonite for the supermen of the national team.

Jonny Wilkinson was rarely the same again, and few others escaped some woe or another after the competition.

"I sometimes wish we'd never won that bloody cup," Phil Vickery, the prop forward, said during one lengthy enforced injury break in the immediate aftermath.

Winning trophies can be bad for your health. Take the Dubai Hurricanes. The club re-established themselves as the premier team in the UAE when they won all the silverware on offer last season.

Things could not have gone any worse since then, though. Once Brian Allen, the coach who laid the platform for all their success, returned home to work in Australia, the wheels did not so much come off as burst, fly off their axles, roll down the hill and end up underneath a hornets nest in a thorn bush.

Since the defence of their Gulf Top Six title began at the start of this season, they have lost Steve Holohan, the coach who replaced Allen, as he had to return to the UK because of health reasons.

Duncan Murray, their UAE team centre, was hit with a long-term suspension after testing positive for a prohibited substance while on international duty.

James Ham, their reliable kicker, suffered a long-term injury. So did their other kicker, James Tometski. Greg Thompson fractured his cheekbone. His partner in the second row, Garrett Noonan, contracted blood clots on his lungs.

The malaise reached its nadir last weekend when they failed to field a side against the Abu Dhabi Harlequins on account of the fact they could not field the requisite number of experienced front-row forwards.

They now lie level on points with Bahrain, whose side has been decimated by departures, at the foot of the standings, ahead of today's game with the top of the table Jebel Ali Dragons at The Sevens.

As has become typical of a club who pride themselves on their spirit as much as their success, they remain sanguine about their struggles.

"Some of us can remember the dark days when we didn't even have shirts," Graham Brown, the club veteran, said. "After that, wins were a bonus.

"The struggles have brought us together as a club, and the positive is we can start from scratch in a few weeks' time [when the UAE Premiership campaign starts]."

pradley@thenational.ae