Emirati rugby star Hassan Al Noobi has revealed a chat with Abu Dhabi Saracens captain Jaen Botes convinced him to make a move to the West Asia Champions from Arabian Knights.
Al Noobi, 28, is arguably the brightest home-grown talent in the UAE, cementing his growing reputation with a starring role on the UAE’s tour to Malaysia in May.
Sarries have also raided Knights for Al Noobi’s fellow UAE international, flanker Mohammed Hassan, who was also on the Malaysia tour.
Full-back Al Noobi was impressive in the Asia Rugby Championship, recording a personal haul of 23 points for Roelof Kotze’s side.
The UAE recorded victories over Thailand and Chinese Taipei in Division II.
The only black mark for the UAE and Al Noobi was when the Emirati’s last minute, long range penalty kick against Malaysia bounced agonisingly off an upright, giving the host nation a 20-19 triumph.
The result ultimately denied the UAE promotion back to the second tier of Asian rugby but Al Noobi’s star was clearly on the rise.
Botes shone for Sarries during the 2014/15 campaign, his performances for the Al Ghazal club leading to him being named player of the year winner at the UAE Rugby Annual Awards, and he seemingly saw enough in his international colleague to want to recruit him as a team-mate at club level too.
“I was in Malaysia and we were coming back on the plane and Jaen Botes was sitting next to me and we were talking about Knights and Saracens and he said ‘we need you to play for us, we can help you’,” said Al Noobi, who played for Knights in the UAE Conference last season.
“It feels very good and I’m really happy Saracens wanted me. Playing in the UAE Premiership and for the West Asia champions will be very big for me.”
Al Noobi said he improved as a player at Knights but he is ready to make the step-up to Premiership rugby.
“I had a meeting last Monday with Saracens and I have spoken to Knights and told them I was leaving,” said Al Noobi, who spent two years with the Dubai-based Knights.
“It’s been a happy time at Knights, I’ve improved myself there and now I want to test myself in the best league and prove I’m good enough to play there. I want to play for the West Asia champions and win the Premiership this season. I’m exci-ted for this.”
— Hassan Al Noobi (@Hassanbushaker7) June 30, 2012
Al Noobi’s arrival is a timely tonic for Sarries, cushioning the blow of South African centre Pieter Morton’s departure to Abu Dhabi rivals Harlequins last week.
Sarries’ chairman Jay Danielson said he is delighted to have acquired the talented Al Noobi.
“I can confirm Saracens have signed Hassan Al Noobi. I have spoken with Hassan and we are looking forward to him joining us,” he said.
“He is a good lad and we are happy to have him in the squad.”
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