Apollo Perelini is hoping to build on the huge success the UAE earned during the Asia Rugby Sevens Series as they target a good showing on home soil.
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After several years of struggle on the sevens circuit, a mixed squad of Emiratis and expats cemented a place among the best eight teams in Asia in October.
New UAE performance manager and interim sevens head coach Perelini is now eyeing January’s Chennai 7s and has followed predecessor Roelof Kotze’s lead by naming a mixed squad which will compete in the International Open Men’s competition this weekend.
Ranked just below the main men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Perelini admits he wants to get his men “battle-hardened”.
“It’s a big challenge for our boys, it’s the first time the UAE will have entered the tournament as an international side and we want to get our minds focused for the Chennai 7s,” said New Zealand-born former dual code Samoa international. “It’s good for our development and important to build on the success they had in the Asia Sevens Series.”
Perelini has selected Niall Statham, who captained the UAE to success in the Asia Sevens Series, while Jaen Botes, Hassan Al Noobi and Adel Al Hendi have all featured heavily for the UAE in both formats of the game in the last 12 months.
It could have been even more formidable but Perelini is content for some players to play for their club sides in the Gulf competitions
“There’s lots of players not available for selection who I’ll be keeping a close eye on,” he said. “It’s important to maintain good relationships with the clubs and I’ve picked a side to be competitive and one that will do the best we can.”
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