Cannie just playing his way through the UAE

As much as Murray Strang impressed on the field for the Abu Dhabi Harlequins, he was himself impressed by Jebel Ali's Greg Cannie.

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DUBAI // In recent years, finding a top-class fly-half who is eligible to represent the UAE has become something like waiting for a bus.

You sit there for ages with nothing doing, then three suddenly arrive at once.

Murray Strang was unable to pit his wits against the other stand-out No 10 in domestic rugby Friday night, as Andy Russell, the brilliant Jebel Ali Dragon, was away attending a wedding.

Russell's locum, however, is a player of rare talent.

Greg Cannie, who played at fly-half for the Dragons, is so rarely spotted in UAE rugby that many of his teammates do not yet know his surname.

He is, in fact, just passing through the UAE, on his way from university in his native Scotland to playing a season of club rugby in Sydney, Australia.

He knows this part of the world well, however.

He grew up in Dubai, and turned down selection for the Arabian Gulf senior team during his last year as a pupil at Dubai College on account of the fact he wanted to try his luck in the game in Scotland, first.

He is still making his way in the game in Scotland, where he combines playing with studying, but the powers-that-be in UAE rugby would be advised to keep tabs on his progress.

Strang, for one, was impressed by the display of his youthful opposite number, and Cannie enjoyed the duel with his fellow Scotsman.

"I haven't played XVs for quite a while, and I need to get games in before heading to Australia," he said.

"The standard was very good, and I really enjoyed it.

"It was tough because I had a good opposite No 10, which was a real test for me."