x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sidelines view for Thompson

The captain and coach of Abu Dhabi Harlequins will oversee the next phase of his side's title defence from outside after exacerbating an old neck injury.

DUBAI // Ali Thompson, the captain, coach and back-row stalwart for Abu Dhabi Harlequins, will have to be satisfied with overseeing the next phase of his side's title defence from the sidelines. The Scottish No 8 exacerbated a long-standing neck injury while playing at the Dubai Rugby Sevens at the start of December. After an MRI scan Thompson was diagnosed with a bulging disc, and he expects to miss as much as a month or more of action, including Harlequins' Gulf Premiership encounter with the Kuwait Nomads at Al Ghazal today.

Quins trail Bahrain by a single bonus point at the top of the Premiership, and Thompson does not expect his absence to be notable this afternoon. "It is a waiting game for me, but we have still been able to name a strong squad for the game against Kuwait, with a lot of key personnel returning," he said. "We haven't played Kuwait for a while, but we have seen they are capable of scaring sides. "I'm looking for a good performance from my side, and if we get that the result will look after itself."

Dubai Dragons will be hoping to forget a miserable end to 2009 in the 15-a-side sphere as they restart their own Premiership campaign by hosting Bahrain at The Sevens. Jayden Wallis's side did retain their Dubai Sevens crown at the start of December, yet that eventually cost them ground in the league. Injuries suffered in the Sevens weekend meant they were unable to take a side to Kuwait for the final match before the winter break, and they were forced to forfeit the points as a result of that. The Dubai Exiles also return to action at Middle East rugby's headquarters this afternoon, where they host Doha. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae