Emirati rugby players will team up with expats for Under 20 Asian Sevens in Hong Kong

Adel Al Hendi, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins wing, will captain the UAE Under 20 sevens side, and he will have some well-credentialed colleagues alongside him in Hong Kong, writes Paul Radley.
Adel Al Hendi will captain the national Under 20 side at the Asian Sevens Series this weekend in Hong Kong. Jeff Topping for The National
Adel Al Hendi will captain the national Under 20 side at the Asian Sevens Series this weekend in Hong Kong. Jeff Topping for The National

DUBAI // The UAE are optimistic about their chances of ending the year on a high after naming a sevens squad combining expatriate and Emirati players for the first time in years.

The rugby federation have had a long-held commitment to only playing UAE passport holders in the short format, with a view to future Olympic participation.

However, the Under 20 side heading to Hong Kong for the second and final leg of the Asian Sevens Series this weekend is bolstered by some expatriate recruits.

Adel Al Hendi, the Abu Dhabi Harlequins wing, will captain the side, and he has some well-credentialed colleagues alongside him.

Al Hendi stepped up to senior men’s rugby at the start of this season, where Iziq Foa’i, who is also part of the UAE U20s squad, was already an established first-team player.

Both of them were part of the Harlequins side who won the Gulf Men’s League title at the Dubai Rugby Sevens last week.

They are joined on the trip to Hong Kong by highly regarded Dubai Exiles first-teamers Janneman Venter and Charlie Sargent.

“I’m really really excited for this, firstly because it’s back at U20s level,” said Al Hendi, who made his senior XVs debut for the UAE alongside Sargent earlier this year.

“I’ve taken a lot of experience from playing senior rugby, and it will be interesting to see how I can apply that to playing with boys my own age again.

“And secondly, the decision to go with Emirati players in senior sevens doesn’t apply at U20s level, so there will be some familiar faces on the team like Iziq.

“I’m sure we’re going to have quite a strong side, and we are looking forward to bringing some silverware back home to the UAE.”

The two-day tournament, being played in Kowloon on Friday and Saturday, also includes China, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, as well as hosts Hong Kong.

The hosts will be the team to beat. They won the opening leg of the series in Malaysia in August and have been unbeaten at both sevens and XVs this year.

UAE Under 20s sevens Adel Al Hendi (captain), Iziq Foa’i (Abu Dhabi Harlequins), Yousif Lashkari (Rashid School for Boys), Khalid Al Junaibi, Abdulla Al Sheikili, Saeed Al Kateeri, Jerry Baleilautoka (all Al Ain Amblers), Janneman Venter, Charlie Sargent, Khalid Suliman, Jason Murphy (all Dubai Exiles), Kipruto Chirchir (Dubai College)

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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