x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Winds of change blowing through Dubai Hurricanes

Already with a new coach, Hurricanes will also have anew captain, writes Paul Radley.

Chris Gregory, left, will still handle many of the administrative duties as official club captain but will relinquish field duties as Dubai Hurricanes captain to Guy Potter.
Chris Gregory, left, will still handle many of the administrative duties as official club captain but will relinquish field duties as Dubai Hurricanes captain to Guy Potter.

Guy Potter acknowledges he has a tough act to follow having been confirmed as the successor to the long-serving Chris Gregory as Dubai Hurricanes captain.

Last season represented a rare blank campaign for the Hurricanes after they conceded their UAE Premiership title and finished some way off the pace set by Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins.

Seldom during his eight seasons as first-team captain at the club has Gregory been denied success.

For much of that time the Hurricanes were the country's leading force as they totted up in excess of 12 major titles on his watch.

Summer has brought with it a variety of changes at the club. Chris Burch set down the coaching reins at the end of the campaign and Russ Huxtable has taken over.

Now Potter has been instilled as the first-team captain, although Gregory will maintain many of the administrative duties as the official club captain.

"I will still be involved and don't want all the hard work to go to waste," said Gregory, 33, who has played 10 seasons in the Hurricanes first XV. "Guy is such a good player and can manage it, and there are enough leaders on the pitch in our team anyway that I'm sure it will be a good season."

Potter, 27, hopes to dovetail reviving the fortunes of the Hurricanes with his own personal aspirations of a return to national team duty with the UAE.

Having debuted in the Cup of Nations at the end of 2012, the English flanker suffered a fractured leg in a club match against Bahrain in January and missed the remainder of the season.

Now fully recuperated, he is plotting his club's return to the top of UAE rugby and he is confident that is within their reach.

"I think of the captaincy as an honour and am proud I was put forward by my peers," said Potter, who has played for the Hurricanes since arriving to work as a consultant at a law recruitment firm in Dubai in April 2009.

"The nature of rugby out here is that squads change every year, and if a club retains their players it is rarely to do with rugby but people's professional lives. But we still have a large portion of the squad who won everything [a domestic clean sweep in 2011]. It is a case of having to refocus."

 

pradley@thenational.ae

 

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