x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Michael Sole attracts national team interest after impressing with Dubai Exiles

The former Dubai College schoolboy has caught the eye of Duncan Hall, and has an affinity with UAE rugby that runs deep.

Michael Sole of Dubai Exiles in action during the training at the rugby field in Dubai Sports City.
Michael Sole of Dubai Exiles in action during the training at the rugby field in Dubai Sports City.

A young Dubai Exiles back will have the chance to press his claims for a place in the UAE side again on Friday, safe in the knowledge he has already been noticed.

Michael Sole caught the eye of Duncan Hall, the national team coach, after scoring a try and then setting up another with a 70 yard break in the agonising defeat to Dubai Hurricanes last weekend.

Hall will be encouraged by the form shown by the likes of Sole and Michael Stubbs, his Exiles backline colleague, as he scours the domestic game for young players worthy of the national team.

"I was supposed to get down to [UAE] training on Saturday but I pulled up with an ankle injury on Friday, although it was nothing too serious," Sole said.

The loss to the Hurricanes was the first time the speedy inside centre had managed to string two consecutive matches together for the Exiles.

He has only been back living in the country for just over two months, having stayed on after winning the international social tournament at the Dubai Sevens with Hunters at the start of December.

However, the 20-year-old fitness instructor's affinity with the game in this part of the world stretches back more than 30 years.

Sole's father Tony played for a variety of clubs across the region, having moved to the Middle East from the UK in 1981.

If Sole Jr does earn a berth in the UAE side for their Asian Five Nations campaign at the end of this season, he would join an exclusive group - albeit unofficially.

To date, only one son has followed his father into the colours of the representative side. Haydn Palmer played for the Arabian Gulf, in the IRB competition of the Dubai Sevens two years ago, as his father Nigel had done before him.

Sole Sr, who captained Abu Dhabi and also played club rugby in Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi, played for the Gulf Barbarians, the precursor for the Arabian Gulf side that was accepted into the IRB fold in the 1990s.

And when his son's Exiles side face Jebel Ali Dragons in the Gulf Top Six this evening, he will have divided loyalties.

"I captained the Dragons [in the '90s] but when I gave up first team rugby the only team who had a vets set up was the Exiles," Tony Sole said. "It'd be great [to see his son turning out in UAE colours if selected in April]."



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