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UAE Premiership: Team-by-team guide for 2012-13 season
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Sport360°'s Rory Coen looks ahead to the new UAE Rugby Premiership season and previews the six clubs fighting for the title.

JEBEL ALI DRAGONS
Home: Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence
Head Coach: Ross Mills
Captain: Taif Al Delamie
Last season: Champions
Players In: Nick Taylor (No8, Barnes RFC), Murray Strang (Fly-half, AD Harlequins), Imad Reyal (Winger, AD Harlequins), Ross Sampson (Utility back, London Scottish)
Players Out: Tom Hatfield, Euan Kelly, Stu Miller (all returned to UK), Ali Common (retired)

Coach verdict: “I suppose our goals are more far reaching than just retaining what we won last year. We want to play a running, attacking style of rugby that puts us on the map in Gulf rugby – we want to be known as a team that wants to play rugby the right way.”

ABU DHABI HARLEQUINS
Home: Zayed Sports City
Head Coach: Jeremy Manning
Captain: Billy Graham
Last season: Runners-up
Players In: Sam Bolger (Scrum-half, London Broncos), Luke Stevenson (Fly-half, Morley), Jonathan Marshall (Back, Newcastle Falcons Academy)
Players Out: Murray Strang (Fly-half, Jebel Ali Dragons), Charles Lilley (retired), Jason Hammer, Perrie Topia, Aaron Sutherland, Clendon Pane (all Abu Dhabi Saracens)

Coach verdict: “The thing we’ve been doing at this club is not looking too far ahead. Take one week at a time. We’re looking as a team about performing and if we’re consistent like last season, the wins will come.”

DUBAI HURRICANES
Home: 7he Sevens Stadium
Head Coach: Russ Huxtable
Captain: Guy Potter
Last season: 3rd
Players In: Craig Chapman (Prop, Middlesbrough), Sean Cairney (Centre, Landsdowne), Andy Powell (Fly-half, Exmouth)
Players Out: Luke Kettlewell (Back row, Doha)

Coach verdict: “We’ve worked hard on stuff like ‘looking at the pitch in front of them’ instead of going through routine drills of playing heads-up rugby. You might say we’re going to have a new style of rugby this season; we have a few new signings with a cutting edge as well. It’s looking very positive.”

DUBAI EXILES
Home: 7he Sevens Stadium
Head Coach: Jan Venter
Captain: Brett Williams
Last season: 4th
Players In: Xander Van Der Westhuizen (Centre, Pirates South Africa), Dave Greig (Scrum-half, Lincoln University New Zealand)
Players Out: No notable departures

Coach verdict: “We have much better numbers than last year and because of that we’re entering two men’s teams this year – one each in the Premiership and Conference. There have been a lot of new faces at training and everyone is excited about the season. Our goal is to finish in the topfour of the Premiership to get into the Gulf Top Six.”

XODUS WASPS
Home: 7he Sevens Stadium
Coaches: Laurence Parker, Callum Brooks, Apollo Perelini
Captain: Joe Earley
Last season: 5th
Players In: Oliver Turnton (Winger, Leicester 7s), Victor Sudi (Winger, Kenyan ‘Quins), Josh Ives (Flanker, Exeter)
Players Out: No notable departures

Coach verdict: “We’ve been training very hard – we’ve had an arduous pre-season involving fitness and skills under Laurence Parker’s tutelage. We have a couple of new boys come in who are making an impact. I think as a club – obviously with the sponsorship deal with Xodus – we’re going to be targeting a place in the Gulf Top Six.”

ABU DHABI SARACENS
Home: Zayed Sports City
Head Coach: Steve Botha
Captain: Vatulele Tusitala
Last season: 6th
Players In: Ali Thompson (No8, Abu Dhabi Harlequins), Clendon Pene (Centre, Abu Dhabi Harlequins), Steve Evans (Fly-half), Ruaan Van De Berg (Prop/Hooker)
Players Out: No notable departures

Coach Verdict: “We showed some promising signs in pre-season against Quins, Exiles and Doha – who we drew 15-15 – but we still have an awful lot of work to do. But we are definitely showing a lot of promise. We’ve come a long way in our first two years in this league and I think we’ll surprise a lot of people in our third season.”

 

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