x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Harlequins' UAE boys ready for action

National players will work to shake off disappointment of the Four Nations in their club colours.

UAE national players, in white, will try to put the debacle of the Dubai Sevens and Four Nations tournaments behind them through play with their club side.
UAE national players, in white, will try to put the debacle of the Dubai Sevens and Four Nations tournaments behind them through play with their club side.

Many owners, directors of rugby and coaches in the Aviva Premiership question, with some justification, the merits of producing players for the England side.

Clubs spend thousands of pounds and countless hours developing youngsters capable of playing for their country yet are penalised for doing so because the players miss domestic games during international fixtures.

Richard Cockerill, the Leicester Tigers coach, said he would not recommend individual Leicester players to the England management, while Bruce Craig, the wealthy owner of Bath, said last month: "We're paying for the assets, who are the players, and we're massively constrained in how we can use them."

Clubs in the Gulf can also legitimately question the structure of their season.

Some of the Harlequins players, according to Chris Davies, the director of rugby, have not played a game for eight weeks due to the Dubai Sevens and the Four Nations tournament. They will have to wait even longer for some action after the Hurricanes cancelled today's Gulf Top Six match because of a lack of props.

The extended lay-off will firstly allow Davies to unpack his suitcase, as he only stepped off a flight from the UK on Thursday and, secondly, afford the likes of Murray Strang and Ed Talbot to fully recover from injury.

It also provides Davies, who brushed up on his skills by watching the Llanelli Scarlets academy squad during his break, with further time to heal the psychological wounds sustained on international duty in the Four Nations.

UAE lost all three games to Brazil, Hong Kong and Kenya, and conceded more than 50 points in each game. While Davies was thrilled the club had more than half a dozen players in the national side, he said it was "psychologically tough" for the likes of Renier Els, Jamie Clarke, Ali Thompson and Chris Jones-Griffiths to be on the receiving end of such heavy defeats.

"Their spirits are remarkably high," Davies said. "The guys are chomping at the bit to get back involved and show what they are made of. Good players learn from losses and the debrief was really positive. The guys will roll up their sleeves and live to fight another day."

 

kaffleck@thenational.ae