x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Service record a case of he says and he differs with Sean Hurley and Mark Gathercole

UAE winger Sean Hurley says he is set to break Mark Gathercole's record - but Gathercole thinks otherwise, writes Paul Radley.

Sean Hurley, centre, is at 42 international appearances entering the UAE's match against Japan.
Sean Hurley, centre, is at 42 international appearances entering the UAE's match against Japan.

While it is reasonable to assume the UAE will suffer some punishment against the professionals from Japan, the national team are guaranteed at least one good news story this evening.

Sean Hurley, the longest-serving player in the national team, is set to break the appearance record for a player from this region - or at least he thinks he is.

The Jebel Ali Dragons winger, who will start this evening's game at The Sevens on the replacements bench, has been an international representative player for 10 years now.

If he gets onto the field, it will be his 43rd international appearance for either the Arabian Gulf or the UAE, which by his calculation is one more than the next best.

However, he is in dispute with Mark Gathercole, his long-term former teammate, over who has played the most - and exactly what the number is.

Having conferred with the database on the respected rugby website scrum.com, they agree on one thing: there are matches missing from the official records.

One thing is for sure, though, Hurley does not want to stop at 43.

"I love playing here and I want carry on past this season, too," said Hurley, 35, who first played for the Gulf on a tour to Bangkok and Hong Kong in 2003.

"Wherever you go to live in the world the first thing you do is pick up the phone book or Google it to see where the nearest rugby club is.

"I've been playing rugby since I was five years old and I can't see myself stopping playing any time soon."

Gathercole moved to Dubai specifically for rugby after seeing an advertisement in a prominent rugby magazine in the UK for players wanted for the new Arabian Gulf team.

The former Harlequins prop played his first Test against Kenya in 1995 and, aged 43, appeared in the final match the collective side played when they beat South Korea in 2010.

Other players could conceivably get more caps than him, but in terms of longevity, Gathercole's 15-year international team career is unlikely to be bettered any time soon.

"My career went over a massive time span because back then the Arabian Gulf side was just starting up and they only played two Tests per year," Gathercole said.

"And in terms of the number, that record will never be broken because all mine came for one team, the Arabian Gulf."




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