Teen star hoping to blossom with Exiles

Matt Jones - Editor 22:35 03/09/2016
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Jerry Kilicanasau has left Al Ain Amblers to develop as a player at Dubai Exiles.

The versatile back has a hugely promising future ahead of him and is looking forward to developing further at the UAE Premiership and West Asia Championship double-winners Kilicanasau, already a senior UAE sevens international, admitted it was a wrench to leave the Garden City, where he has lived for the last 14 years, but believes he will become a much better player with the help of Benade.

“I want to develop. Instead of staying put and learning less, I want to come and learn more and Exiles, things I haven’t learned before,” the 18-year-old said on the sidelines as he watched his new side play out an entertaining 23-23 draw with Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the Asia Rugby Western Clubs Champions League opener at The Sevens on Friday night.

The 18-year-old is expected to make his bow in the black and red jersey next Friday when Exiles entertain Sri Lankan champions Kandy with the title on the line.

“(I want to) learn from top players they’ve signed and I’m looking forward to playing. I’m not fit at the moment but I’ll train and hopefully be ready to go next week.

“I started training with them two weeks ago and it’s been going good. Jacques said he would save me for next week’s game with Kandy.

“I’m looking forward to it. I wanted to play this week against a few of my other Fijian brothers at Harlequins but it’s the first game, so they had to go with their own team, so I’ll save it up for next week.”

The fleet-footed Kilicanasau is studying audio engineering and film-making at the SAE Institute in Dubai’s Knowledge Village and hopes his move will add to a burgeoning career that is already home to an impressive highlights reel.

As well as the switch to Exiles being more convenient for studies, Kilicanasau added that the place he had called home since moving from his native Fiji in 2002 had begun to feel less familiar with a raft of departures this summer.

Esekaia Dranibota, Emosi Ratuvecanaua and Sirilo Laladidi lined up for Quins on Friday after also leaving Al Ain, while Josua Navabale did so 12 months ago.

The youngster spoke to his father as well as UAE national team coach Apollo Perelini before making the move.

“I wanted to come here. With a lot of the Fijian boys moving on from Al Ain, it felt like it wasn’t home anymore,” Kilicanasau said of leaving Amblers, a club he had spent a decade with.

“A few of the boys have gone to Jebel Ali Dragons also, so I decided to move as well. Al Ain wouldn’t feel like home without them. Exiles wanted me to come too, so I decided to come.

“It was a tough decision to leave. I came to the UAE in 2002 and have been in Al Ain since then. I’ve been a bumble bee for 10 years so leaving Al Ain was tough.

“My family’s there, especially my brothers in the team, but I’m thinking about my career and future, not about where I stay, moving to a better club, moving my career forward and stepping it up.”

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