UAE squad dealt a late blow with Quihen Marais ruled out

The teenager from Al Ain withdrew from sevens squad, Steven Imbert. from the Dubai Hurricanes, will replace him.

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DUBAI // The UAE's preparations for their debut appearance at the Dubai Rugby Sevens have suffered a late blow after Quihen Marais, the exciting teenage prospect from Al Ain, was forced to withdraw yesterday due to illness.

Marais, who was born in South Africa but has lived in Al Ain since he was 11 months old, had been hospitalised after the UAE returned from the Goa Sevens two weeks ago.

His recovery was slow and Wayne Marsters, the UAE coach, made the call to replace him with Stephane Imbert, whose Dubai Hurricanes teammates will now have to begin their Gulf Men's campaign without him today.

"We had been monitoring Quihen's progress, but he was only 70 per cent recovered and the doctor felt that he still needed a few days more," Marsters said.

The coach is hopeful he will be able to name Marais, who is diabetic, in his squad for the Emirates Cup of Nations Test matches which start six days after this weekend's Sevens.

In addition to playing senior international rugby for the first time, Marais, 18, is still learning how to manage his diabetes in the taxing environment of a two-day sevens competition.

"It has been a learning experience for him, and he had some moments in India where he had to make sure he took control of his blood sugar level," Marsters said. "We have a doctor looking after him and helping him with nutrition, and the whole squad were taking ownership of helping him with that."

Imbert, the French fly-half from the Hurricanes, had to ask permission to leave work early yesterday, to join up with the rest of the UAE squad at their hotel in Festival City.

Rama Chand was also replaced by David Matasio, a Kenyan-born flanker from Dubai Wasps.