Gerard Faitotoa made a startling impact on his debut in UAE rugby, running in a 40-metre try minutes into his first appearance for Dubai Hurricanes.
The prop forward is one of two new recruits the Dubai club have secured from the Super Rugby franchise of the same name.
After being introduced as a second-half substitute, the young front-row forward broke through several tackles as he ran in his try from the 10-metre line.
Faitotoa’s effort was the pick of the four Hurricanes scored in their 28-12 win over Dubai Sports City Eagles at The Sevens.
Nick Pass, Dave Knight and Joe Reilly scored the others, while Tom Price and Sean Carey touched down for the away side.
“This club has been really welcoming, and footy is footy wherever you go around the world, it is like a brotherhood,” Faitotoa said.
“It was good to get the try, but I was sucking in the big ones afterwards. In my younger days, with a little bit less weight on me [he scored tries of similar standard] but it was all down to the boys in front of me, wearing the other team down.”
Mike Wernham, the Hurricanes coach, said he was not shocked by his new front-row forward’s turn of pace.
“Last weekend, we had our elite academy training on the opposite pitch,” Wernham said.
“There is a boy in our Under 19 who is arguably the quickest player out here at U19 level. Gerard, bare-foot, was toe to toe with him chasing him down.
“He didn’t catch him, but he wasn’t far off. Gerard came back and said, ‘Next time, I’ll where boots and I’ve got him.”
Sam Tufuga, Faitotoa’s colleague who has also made the trip from New Zealand to spend a season in Dubai, started at tight-head. Hurricanes are sweating on his fitness after he injured his right ankle in the second half.