Hassan Al Noobi says he “dreams” of one day taking to the field as part of a successful UAE team boasting all-Emirati players, but for now he is grateful for the assistance of his expatriate comrades.
The rising star of Emirati rugby hopes the UAE can make positive strides in the opening leg of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in Qingdao this weekend, using the performance of the 15-a-side team at May’s Asia Rugby Championship in Malaysia as inspiration.
Despite shining as one of the UAE’s leading lights in the Far East three months ago, however, the 28-year-old believes that if they are to succeed in China it will be down to the collective and not individual efforts.
— Gulf Rugby Paper (@GulfRugbyPaper) August 30, 2015
“Expats help but in future we want an all Emirati team. That’s the dream,” said Al Noobi, whose performances in May earned him a move to West Asia Cup champions Abu Dhabi Saracens this summer after two years with UAE Conference side Arabian Knights.
“One day we need to have all Emiratis playing in sevens. I don’t mean we don’t want expat players but one day they will not be here. We will just be here. That’s why I think we need all Emiratis playing for the sevens.
“It’s difficult though. If they don’t show up and the (UAE Rugby) Federation don’t support them to come and play rugby then Emiratis won’t play.
“We need the expat players to come and help us now and I appreciate what they have done. They love to come and play with us and we are happy and comfortable with them. We have a good blend of Emiratis and expats.”
The UAE performed admirably in three Division II games in the Championship in May, beating Chinese Taipei 16-12 and hammering Thailand 53-22 in Kuala Lumpur, narrowly missing out on promotion after a 20-19 defeat to the hosts.
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Al Noobi, whose last minute penalty struck a post to deny the UAE victory against Malaysia, nevertheless came back home with his reputation enhanced, having scored 23 of the UAE’s 88 points.
However, he played down his individual exploits and only wants progress for the UAE, who are hoping to rise from an Asia sevens ranking of 11th and break into the top eight, this weekend.
“We’re confident. We can be confident of going there on the back of our performances in May,” said the UAE full-back.
“I’m not going to say I will do the same things as I did in May. I didn’t do them by myself. It was with the support of my team-mates. They will support me again and we will support each other.
“I don’t want to show myself that I’m the main one on the pitch. I want everyone to show themselves on the pitch. It’s the UAE, it’s not Hassan’s team or any other player’s team, I just want to hear UAE team.”
Upon the deadline expiration, announcement to be published on 7/9/2015 in relation to the clubs licensing requirement pic.twitter.com/mkDTcy59ao
— UAE Rugby Federation (@uaerugby) August 29, 2015
The UAE face an uphill task, having been drawn in Pool A alongside Hong Kong, inside the top two of Asia, and the fifth-ranked Philippines.
However, Al Noobi is not lacking confidence.
“Yes. It’s a tough pool but we’ll get experience from them and we’ll learn a lot. Like the moves, with the Fijian guys that play for Japan. It will be tough but it’s fine.
“I realise when the expats came and trained with us it’s changed a lot because when we were all Emirati’s, new players coming in didn’t know the rules and they were struggling.
“As soon as the expats came in I’m 100 per cent sure we will go there and do good things, so long as we don’t get any injuries.
“Before we were thinking we’d go there and lose. Now we need to win. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, we’re going to go there and smash them.”
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