x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tries galore from Rama Chand

Rama Chand's try-scoring run has put in contention for a UAE call-up.

There are ways and means pressing your claims for international selection. Rama Chand has been setting about attracting the attention of the UAE selectors in the most demonstrative terms possible, having scored in 14 successive outings for his club side, Toa Dubai.

Such startling form might easily have been overlooked, however, as Toa continue to fly below the radar in domestic rugby.

The UAE's longer-established big four - Dubai's Exiles and Hurricanes, Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins - have been competing in the top-tier Gulf Top Six.

Toa, meanwhile, have been contenting themselves so far this term with the odd friendly match, plus fixtures in the second-rung Gulf Conference competition.

That said, Chand's run is unlikely to have gone unappreciated by Wayne Marsters, the UAE rugby manager, who is the interim national team coach and a fellow New Zealander.

Marsters is looking for players to bolster the national team midfield, which has been denuded since the Asian Five Nations at the end of last season, ahead of the Dubai Rugby Sevens and Emirates Four Nations tournaments next month.

John Mamea-Wilson, the Toa captain and coach, said the gifted centre should feature prominently in the plans of the new coach.

"He is probably the best centre in the league," Mamea-Wilson said. "We saw the best of him at the weekend [in Toa's win over Al Ain] as he did not have to try too hard because our forwards were unreal.

"But even last season, whenever we were under pressure we would always give the ball to him to get us off the hook."

It is fair to assume that Chand, who made his international debut for the Arabian Gulf last summer, would be a mainstay in the national team were it not for external problems.

Due to an ongoing visa issue, he has been unable to travel abroad, either for UAE internationals or for inter-Gulf fixtures with Toa.

However, all of the national team's immediate commitments of any relevance are to be played on UAE soil, and he wants to be a part of them.

"I am very keen to play for the UAE in the Sevens and Four Nations, and just want to do as much as I can playing for Toa," Chand said.

He said that scoring in his past 14 club matches "is mainly down to the fact we have a talented backline, meaning I get my hands on the ball a lot in the midfield".

pradley@thenational.ae