Abu Dhabi Harlequins dual code rugby star Iziq Foa’i is keeping a promise he made to his mother to finish his schooling in the UAE.
However, with his A Levels coming up over the next two months, the teenage talent can’t promise to be in the Middle East for very much longer.
The 19-year-old battering ram is currently cutting his teeth with Super League’s Warrington Wolves in the north west of England, where he is undergoing a two-week trial.
It is the latest in a series of trips to the UK that the New Zealander has made over the last few years.
Foa’i, who can play either as a forward or a back, initially spent time at the UK Harlequins’ Elite Player Development Group in the summer of 2013.
The following year he returned, albeit he was bumped up to the senior set-up where he trained with England internationals Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown.
— Sport360° (@Sport360) April 6, 2015
Last year the multi-talented Kiwi even played for Quins’ 7s side that participated in last summer’s Premiership 7s and World Club 7s at Twickenham.
He ended his 2014 UK stint with a trial at St Helens in Super League, the code Foa’i grew up playing in his homeland, only taking up union when he moved with his family to Abu Dhabi in 2010.
Foa’i admits his latest two week stint in the UK is going well, with Warrington already informing him they want him back to complete the season – after his exam commitments of course.
“I got a trial with Warrington Wolves for a few weeks after some of the boys sent my CV,” said Foa’i.
“The boys are super nice and have really got me involved from the start, but it’s been the hardest training I’ve ever done, on a par with training with London Harlequins.
“Mainly the training I’ve been doing is conditioning, just trying to get match fit so I can come back after A Levels and finish the season, that’s the plan.
“It’s all dependent on my Samoan passport and if I can get that as early as possible. With my current New Zealand passport I need to have a New Zealand representative honour or have played National Rugby League Under-20s which I haven’t had as I’ve been raised in the UAE.
“Wolves want me back after my A Levels are done to finish the season with their U19s, which ends in October.”
Foa’i enjoyed a fine season with Quins, helping them to winning the UAE Premiership and the Gulf Men’s League title at the Dubai Sevens, going on to impress in the Gulf Top Six too.
He also started the Nissan Rugby League Cup season with Quins, playing the opening game against Dubai Sharks on April 17 and scoring a try in the 70-14 rout before heading to Warrington days later.
Quins coach Tony Scott said he is delighted for his captain, who he says always leads from the front.
“It’s fantastic for him and we’re all really proud of him at the club,” said Scott.
“Hopefully something good will come out of this two weeks in England. He’s got everything; size, power, speed. He’s a typical league player. What a star to play both codes so well. He’s so dominant in both.”
Abu Dhabi Harlequins put one foot in the Nissan Rugby League Cup final with a tense 24-12 win over Xodus Wasps on Friday night.
– GALLERY: Sport360's UAE Rugby Awards 2014-15
– UAE Rugby: Sharks ready to attack after rude awakening
The game had been billed as a dress rehearsal for the Cup final in a few weeks’ time and the rivals showed that there is little between the two teams at Zayed Sport City.
Brian Geraghty led the way for the defending champions with two tries, with William Umu, Matt Sith and Scott Brodie all touching down for Tony Scott’s men.
Dougie Steele added two conversions in an intense battle that was only 10-6 to Quins at the interval. Wasps replied with two tries, one each for Josh Ives and George Cliffe. Ed Armitage then converted both scores.
In the other game, Dubai Sharks were beaten heavily for the second week in a row as Al Ain Amblers threw their hat in the ring for a Cup final berth, Keleto Dyer’s men dishing out a 100-6 hammering to the team making their UAE rugby league debut this season.
Frederick Karl Holdt was a key man for Amblers, kicking seven conversions as well as touching down for a try, but it was Patrick Camaivuna who grabbed the headlines as he helped himself to a handful of scores as he crossed the whitewash five times. There was also a brace for Natuna Kiniviliane and one for Azmat Niazi.
Amblers led 62-0 at half-time, but Sharks did reply in the second half through captain Dan Crumplin.
UAE Rugby has announced the National XV’s men’s 32-man training squad ahead of Asian Rugby Football Union’s (ARFU) new tournament, the Asia Rugby Championship.
Previously played under ‘Asian 5 Nations’ the restructured tournament aims to provide Asia’s rugby union teams with the opportunity to play more games against Unions that are matched in skill and fitness.
The top-tier will be supported by a four-nation Division I tournament, and five other competitive divisions, involving over 21 ARFU member Unions. As a full ARFU member and active Union, UAE Rugby’s National XV’s men’s team will compete in the tournament’s Division II against Malaysia, Thailand and Chinese Taipei in Kuala Lumpur next month.
To be played in a round-robin format over 3 days, the UAE’s campaign will commence on Sunday May 10th, with the second game played on Wednesday May 13th and conclude with their final game on Saturday May 16th.
٩:٣٨ الآن: جانب من تمرين منتخب الامارات للرجبي استعداداً لبطولة آسيا 9:38 Live: UAE Rugby team training pic.twitter.com/o0TPB5jKmf
— UAE RUGBY FEDERATION (@uaerugby) April 24, 2015
Full UAE National XV’s 32-man training squad:
Adam Telford, Andrew Carphin, Brian Rushe, Charles Sargent, Chris Jones Griffiths, Clint Berkenshaw, Cyrus Homayoun*, Daniel Minks. Ed Lewsey, Graham Murphy, Hareb Al Azri*, Hassan Al Noobi*, James Parker, Jason Murphy, Jaen Botes, Joe Cooper, Johnny Greenwood, Jono Bester, Justin Walsh, Khalid Al Blooshi*, Mark Weissenborn, Matt Hutchings, Mikey Botha, Mohamed Hassan*, Mohannad Shaker*, Niall Statham, Paul Hart, Phil Brady, Ryno Fourie, Saeed Ibrahim*, Tyson Byrne, Waleed Salem*
* denotes Emirati players