x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Jebel Ali Dragon is ready to roar for club and country

Rory Binder, the South African-born, centre for the Jebel Ali Dragons could play for the UAE after the Dave Clark decision.

Rory Binder played for the Arabian Gulf in the Sevens last December.
Rory Binder played for the Arabian Gulf in the Sevens last December.

The Jebel Ali Dragons will get the chance to unleash Rory Binder, their prize summer acquisition, on opposition defences for the first time today, a week after he had to miss out on making an emotive debut.

Binder is one of three new arrivals at Jebel Ali from Bahrain. However, only one of them was able to make the return trip as the Dragons kicked off their Gulf Top Six campaign in Saar last Friday.

While Euan Kelly, the fullback, made a try-scoring return to his former home, as the Dragons won 23-7, Binder and Dan Bell, the fly-half, were absent through injury.

Bell is expected to be out until the start of 2012 as he recovers from a knee operation, but Binder should be back after a hamstring strain to face the Abu Dhabi Harlequins this afternoon.

"It would have been a nice game to make my first appearance in, but unfortunately I tweaked a hamstring training with the [UAE] sevens side," Binder, a South African-born centre, said. "It was a little sad, but hopefully I'll be fit for this weekend."

Binder's arrival could provide a major boost for UAE rugby, as he is a centre of rich pedigree who played for the Arabian Gulf at the Dubai Rugby Sevens last year.

His international career looked to be over, though, as the majority of non-UAE based players were then left out in the cold by the disbandment of the Gulf union.

However, players such as Binder, and his work colleague Bell, who also debuted for the Gulf in December's Rugby Sevens, have been given reason for optimism by the case of Dave Clark.

Clark represented the Arabian Gulf for years and, even though he has lived in Bahrain for more than three years, was given special dispensation by the International Rugby Board to play for the UAE.

If Binder is afforded such an allowance - he has been employed by the UAE company Al Tayer Stocks for the duration of his stay in the Gulf to date - then the Dragons could have a UAE-elect midfield this season.

Trent Eastgate, their captain, had to miss the national team's maiden Asian Five Nations campaign because of injury, but was a mainstay of the Gulf's 2010 campaign. For now, however, Eastgate is focused on building on the impressive start his Dragons side have made to the season.

"Travelling to Bahrain is always difficult because they always put out a very good team, and this was our first run out of the year, so I think we did very well," he said.

"Bahrain have always been known to have a strong pack of forwards, and I thought our forwards really stood up well to their pack."

 

pradley@thenational.ae