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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Former London Bronco Ben Bolger is happy to teach rugby and compete

As the Abu Dhabi Harlequins get ready to meet the Al Ain Amblers in the UAE Rugby League, former London Bronco Ben Bolger is happy to do his bit and educate the newcomers, writes Paul Radley.
Ben Bolger, of Abu Dhabi Harlequins, centre, spent plenty of time during the team's opening-round rugby league match talking his inexperienced colleagues through the rudiments of the game. Jake Badger for The National
Ben Bolger, of Abu Dhabi Harlequins, centre, spent plenty of time during the team's opening-round rugby league match talking his inexperienced colleagues through the rudiments of the game. Jake Badger for The National

Ben Bolger, the former Super League professional, says he feels no frustration over the growing pains of the nascent 13-man code here. Far from it: he is just happy to help out.

This time last year he was earning a living from rugby league in England with London Broncos.

Circumstance has meant he is now at the forefront of attempts to establish the game in the UAE, where he works in the finance sector in Abu Dhabi.

His Abu Dhabi Harlequins side made a winning start to life in this format when they beat Mana Dubai, the country's first independent league club, two weeks ago.

The 23-year-old loose forward spent as much time in that opening-round match talking his inexperienced colleagues through the rudiments of the game as he did carrying the ball up to the gainline.

And not just his young colleagues. Even Chris Davies, the Quins director of rugby, has been taking his lead off his senior player, as well as his brother, Sam.

"If two Super League players say I can do it, that's enough for me," said Davies, as he spent much of the match against Mana inside the field of play, barking instructions from closer range than is possible in union.

"It is all new to most of us and to have players like them to learn from is great."

Quins are back in action this evening on their home patch against Al Ain Amblers, giving the young talent in the side another chance for a tutorial from Bolger.

"It doesn't frustrate me at all," Bolger said. "I knew rugby league was not something which came naturally to a lot of these lads.

"We have a lot of young players who have put in a great effort, been to every training, and to see them grabbing tries [against Mana], I was really chuffed for them."

pradley@thenational.ae

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