posted on 10/05/2012: 634 views
The presence of nine Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the 22-man UAE squad for their crucial Asian 5 Nations (A5N) clash with Kazakhstan on Friday is testament to a season of hard work, according to Quins director of rugby Chris Davies.
The capital clubâ€™s No8 Ali Thompson will again captain Duncan Hallâ€™s UAE side as they look to put two heavy defeats against Hong Kong and Japan â€" in which they conceded a combined 191 points â€" firmly behind them with a victory that could seal their Top 5 survival.
Thompson is joined in the starting XV at 7he Sevens by club-mates Graham Murphy, Peter Sampson, Patrick Hegarty, Murray Strang and Jonathan Oâ€™Connor, while, Charles Lilley, Christopher Jones-Griffiths and Sam Cook will all start on the replacementsâ€™ bench.
Full-back Joel Pikari, in the 22 for the first two games, was unavailable for selection otherwise there would have been potentially 10 Quins on display.
According to Davies, the players deserve their place in the national set-up after a successful season that saw them lift the Top Six title before narrowly missing out on UAE Premiership honours.
â€œThe guys have worked really hard all year to be honest and itâ€™s just paying off now,â€ Davies told Sport360Â°. â€œThe guys have been playing consistently well and theyâ€™re transferring that now and getting the opportunity to do that on a higher stage away from club rugby, and to mix up with other good players as well is great for their development as well.
â€œTheyâ€™ve been working really hard and despite some of the results of late they are mentally tough, I know that for a fact, and they are going to get a lot of good experience and bring that back to the club so thatâ€™s great. Itâ€™s great for the club and a great achievement for the boys.â€
Recent history is on the UAEâ€™s side having recorded their only win as an independent nation against Kazakhstan in Abu Dhabi last April, ironically with a try from Mike Riley the cornerstone of victory.
Hallâ€™s side have been well beaten on the pitch in the A5N, while the UAE Rugby Association have come in for criticism off it â€" with Riley writing an open letter to Sport360Â° - but Davies has backed his players to have their focus squarely on getting a win on Friday.
He said: â€œI canâ€™t comment on the rest of the squad but I know the guys that I know really well and they take every game as it comes and they are mentally strong. They might have a couple of battered egos but I know that theyâ€™ll just roll up their sleeves and get on with it, itâ€™s a must-win game and these guys are competitive otherwise they wouldnâ€™t enter the field of play so I wish them well for this Friday and Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™ll produce the goods.
â€œThe guys I know are battlers, they are very competitive and thatâ€™s shown when the chips have been down for us as a club this year, theyâ€™ve just got on with it.â€ â€" Sport 360Â°
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