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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Dubai Hurricanes' association with New Zealand Super Rugby franchise bears fruit with addition of two new recruits 

Props Sam Tufuga and Gerard Faitotoa will dovetail playing for Hurricanes this season with coaching at the club’s academy, as well as working as interns at a school in Dubai

A Dubai Hurricanes inter-club match at The Sevens in Dubai. The club's West Asia Premiership campaign will get some fresh impetus with the arrival of two aspiring professionals from New Zealand this week. Satish Kumar for the National
A Dubai Hurricanes inter-club match at The Sevens in Dubai. The club's West Asia Premiership campaign will get some fresh impetus with the arrival of two aspiring professionals from New Zealand this week. Satish Kumar for the National

Dubai Hurricanes’ West Asia Premiership campaign will get some fresh impetus with the arrival of two aspiring professionals from New Zealand this week.

The Dubai club have a long-standing association with the Super Rugby franchise of the same name in Wellington.

They have benefited from trading coaching expertise in the past, and the UAE side will now be able to call on promising young players from the Hurricanes system.

Two front-row forwards, Sam Tufuga, a tight-head prop, and Gerard Faitotoa, a loose head, are due to start training with their new colleagues this week.

They will dovetail playing for Hurricanes this season with coaching at the club’s academy, as well as working as interns at a school in Dubai.

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“We are really excited, not just for the calibre of players who are coming to us, but for the development of the link we have been trying to promote over the past couple of years,” Mike Wernham, Dubai Hurricanes’ coach, said.

“This has been a long time coming, but fortunately during the summer, when we were finally able to meet, we were able to get the ball rolling and now it is here.”

The two players arrive with impressive pedigree in age-group rugby. Tufuga has played for Samoa in the Junior World Trophy, and has been part of the wider training squad for the New Zealand provincial side Manawatu.

Faitotoa has been part of age-group squads for both Australia and Samoa. Each is part of the Hurricanes system.

According to Simon Lewis, the Dubai club’s chairman, the arrival of the new recruits is the product of a growing relationship with their associates in New Zealand.

“This has been three years in the making since we developed a closer affiliation with the Hurricanes club in Wellington, following a visit by three of our coaches to their training camp,” Lewis said.

“The Hurricanes are seeking to enhance the development of players who are on the cusp of becoming fully professional players.

“With the opportunity of support being provided by Dubai English Speaking College to offer them an internship, and Sam and Gerard coaching in the Dnata Travel Rugby Academy, rugby benefits all round.”

The addition of some extra firepower in their forward pack will improve the prospects of the Hurricanes first XV, who have made a fitful start to the Premiership campaign.

They won their opening fixture against Abu Dhabi Saracens, but were comfortably beaten by their neighbours Dubai Exiles at The Sevens on Thursday night.

There are no Premiership matches next weekend, but Hurricanes return to action with a trip to Dubai Sports City Eagles on Friday October 13.

“We need to try to get a little more structure in our scrum to be more effective,” Wernham said.

“We think these guys are going to have a big impact, both within the games but also in terms of the education they are going to be able to give our other senior props, our mini and youth, and women’s teams as well.

“On the field we are hoping this will give us a greater impact. We know that we are a good side. On our day we can compete with anyone.

“We will be looking to get these guys up to speed and involved against the Eagles next week.”