After nearly ending their debut campaign in Middle East rugby with a trophy, Dubai Eagles cannot wait to take flight for the 2018/19 season this weekend.
Eagles grew into their fledgling campaign and although there were major learning curves and disappointments, there were also a few standout moments.
A maiden victory in just their third game – a 17-11 triumph over Abu Dhabi Saracens – in September was a great moment, as was their appearance in the West Asia Trophy final, with the Eagles going down to a narrow 31-22 defeat to Dubai Hurricanes.
Canes are the opponents on Friday as the West Asia Premiership campaign kicks-off, and after a heavy recruitment drive this summer, the second-year club are excited to build on their foundations.
“We’re looking forward to the weekend, it’s going to be a cracking game,” said fly-half and director of rugby Sean Carey.
“Our last game last season was against Hurricanes and it’s the first game this season so it’ll be good to see how much we’ve progressed over the summer.
“They’ve had a few new boys in over the summer and so have we, so hopefully it should be another cracking game along the same lines as the final in March. Hopefully we can push them as close as we did then.”
Arguably the headline arrival for the Dubai Sports City-based club, at least in terms of domestic transfers, is Isaac Porter, the Number 8 who excelled with Sharjah in their 2015/16 UAE Conference triumph.
He has been joined by a few old Wanderers teammates in light of the club’s decision last week to withdraw from the 2018/19 season.
“We’ve got a few new boys in, Isaac as well as a few more from Sharjah since they folded, which are great additions,” added UAE international Carey.
“A few Beaver Nomads players too who are looking quite good. A lot of Irish boys, Stephen Murphy has come over, Olly Johnson who has played for Hurricanes in the past and represented England rugby league’s second team, he’s back after taking a few years out and is a good addition to the back line.
“Harrison Astley, a UAE U19 international, at full-back, is a very exciting talent. We’ve got Jamie Frost too, who has played for Doha in the past and back in England attended Sedbergh, so has a good background.
“We’re a lot stronger this year but so is everyone else so we’re cautious. We know a lot is expected of us after the end to the season. Every single game is tough but we’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve been training hard over the summer. We had a long pre-season and we’re fit and ready to go. We had a training match against the Dragons last week which was a good crack. We just want to get on the field.”
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