Despite Qatar boycott, Doha's Alex Natera is preparing his side for new season

Matt Jones - Editor 00:41 20/07/2017
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Their future remains uncertain, but Doha coach Alex Natera insists his troops will be working hard when pre-season begins early next month.

Due to the severing of political ties between several Gulf nations and Qatar in June, Doha had been expected to be left out in the wilderness in 2017/18.

They were ousted from the region’s premier rugby competition, the West Asia Premiership, when the UAE Rugby Federation sent out an initial calendar of domestic competition dates via email at the beginning of July.

Asia Rugby have since confirmed that Doha could be allowed to participate if their fixtures are played at a neutral venue, most likely Muscat, a move that has been met by mixed reactions in the Emirates.

Whatever the future holds, head coach Natera insists his men will be playing rugby next season.

“All I know is we start pre-season on August 7 and I just want my boys focused on getting fit and preparing to play good rugby this season,” said Natera.

“We will be playing rugby that’s for sure. We’d love to be playing Bahrain and the top UAE teams but if politics gets in the way of that, this season we’ll still play rugby and that’s the most important thing.

“All that’s on my mind right now is that from the 7th I have around eight weeks to get my boys ready to play better than last season – against who and where is not up to me.”

Just as UAE clubs are skeptical as to Doha’s inclusion in the Premiership next season, Natera doesn’t feel playing in Muscat will be beneficial to the club.

“There was a suggestion to hold our away games in Muscat and keep our home games as they are,” he added.

“The club would lose far too much revenue to not host our home games. I can’t see Muscat being an option to be honest. I’ve heard loads of different options but nothing is anywhere near concrete yet.

“I’ve heard we might join the Sri Lankan league and I’ve heard we may drop down to the Conference and miss the two or so games that we can’t travel to. I’ve heard we may pick up friendly matches throughout the season with Lebanon, Jordan and Sri Lankan teams. Who knows.”

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