UAE players keen to impress against Barbarians

Matt Jones 20:03 26/04/2017
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Ryno Fourie (c) is looking forward to the opportunity to impress.

They might have scraped through in their first trial match, but the UAE squad are not concerned by the fact they had to grind out victory against the Conference Barbarians last week.

Apollo Perelini’s charges were 14 points down at one stage and trailed by five heading into the final quarter at The Sevens before rallying late on to claim a 36-24 victory.

Their task only gets harder Friday as they face Mike McFarlane’s Premiership Barbarians at Sharjah Wanderers Sports Club but the players are relishing another stern test to prepare them for the 2017 Asia Rugby Championship series in Malaysia next month.

“I think we showed a lot of character in that game after trailing with 14 points at once stage,” said Jebel Ali Dragons winger Ryno Fourie.

“It’s always difficult playing these trial games as you play quarters with different combinations and tend to lose your momentum, however, I think we really started to get our structures right in the last 20 minutes. We wanted more and I think our fitness helped us close the game out.”

Perelini and his players will expect a tough game against McFarlane’s side – which will feature the likes of Quins duo Patrick Jenkinson and Andrew Semple and Dragons pair Matt Henry and Sakiusa Naisau.

But Fourie insists the players are not feeling forlorn after being pushed so close by their Conference counterparts.

“Going into the Premiership game will be another test for us and I feel we have to step it up a notch,” added the South African flyer.

“Apollo told us that he’s not concerned about the result but he is looking how we implement our structures. What also helped us prepare for this Friday’s game was a video session on the Baa Baa’s game to analyse where we could improve.

“All of us are gelling nicely and we will play for each other going forward. The Premiership players are the best in the region and we want to test ourselves against the best.”

His feelings are shared by compatriot Jaen Botes and Dubai Exiles captain Glenn Moore – who is hoping to have done enough over the two games and training sessions to earn a spot on the plane to Malaysia and a first cap for the UAE.

“I think we are confident that things will click for us if we can just get our set piece right and settle into our patterns a bit,” said Ulsterman Moore.

“Hopefully that first game has got rid of any nerves boys might have and we can just keep improving from here.”

For Botes, the Abu Dhabi Saracens’ man mountain of a Number 8, he sees no negatives from the manner of last week’s win and is just excited for the games ahead.

“We know that it will be a good challenge for us this weekend and we just want to improve on our last performance and look to set better standards,” he said.

“I’m excited and hope to improve on many things myself and I’m sure every person in camp has the same mentality. These are exciting times and it should be a good run around on the weekend.”

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