x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

International wanders away from Sharjah

The Wanderers will begin their pursuit of a top-four finish in the UAE Conference tomorrow without their leading player from last season, Jonny Greenwood.

Sharjah Wanderers will begin their pursuit of a top-four finish in the UAE Conference tomorrow without their leading player from last season after Jonny Greenwood departed the club in the summer.

Wanderers fell short of their own expectations last season, but there was success in the form of producing their first capped UAE senior player.

Greenwood, the Abu Dhabi-born hooker, went direct from Conference rugby with Sharjah to the international game in the Asian Five Nations.

He has opted to leave the second division to test himself at Premiership level with the Dubai Hurricanes.

His departure, however, has been offset by the appointment of a new head of rugby. Mike Pugsley had been employed by the Welsh Rugby Union before moving to the UAE last year.

"Last season we finished towards the bottom, but this year we are looking towards a top-four spot," Pugsley said. "That would be treated as a success."

Four independent clubs plus three second XV sides will try to haul in Abu Dhabi Harlequins' second-string, the undefeated champions of last season.

Wanderers, Arabian Knights and Al Ain Amblers are all looking for consolidation following troubled times last season, while Dubai Sharks have grown thanks to a summer of recruitment.

"Our ranks have swollen in the off-season and we are aiming to finish in the top six," said Francis Scott of the Sharks.

pradley@thenational.ae

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