He's off to learn from Umaga

He's off to learn from Umaga
Jay-Hykel Jailani, Singapore's rugby player, at a training session.

SINGAPORE - Singapore rugby's new sensation Jay-Hykel Jailani has played against some of the biggest players in the region.

Now, he's getting ready to go up against the biggest players in the world.

In an agreement between the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) and Hong Kong's Asia Pacific Dragons, the 20-year-old (above) will join the franchise's invitational team that will compete in next week's Hong Kong 10s (March 26 to 27).

Jay-Hykel, who impressed at both forward and back positions during the HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens series last year, will play for the Dragons' development team, the Carinet Dragons.

The Asia Pacific Dragons will do battle in the main event - a 16-team tournament.

In Hong Kong, the Singapore international will be guided by Dragons coach Tana Umaga, the former New Zealand All Blacks captain.

The former Saint Andrews student will also train alongside the likes of 2010 International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens Player of the Year Mikaele Pesamino and former Aviva Premiership (England's professional league) top scorer Alesana Tuilagi from Samoa.

"I have to say that I'm nervous just thinking about playing next to Pesamino and Tuilagi," said Jay-Hykel, who has played age-group rugby for the past three years before joining the national team last year.

"I'm excited, of course. The experience is going to be priceless, and hopefully, I can pick up a few things while I'm there."

The Asia Pacific Dragons won the Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby 7s last November.

They have confirmed their attendance for the inaugural World Club 10s, which will be staged at the new 55,000-seater National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub on June 21 and 22.

Opportunity

Depending on Jay-Hykel's performance at the Hong Kong 10s, he could have the opportunity to train with the Dragons again in the lead-up to the World Club 10s.

SRU's technical director and national coach, Inoke Afeaki, says Jay-Hykel is in for an "awesome experience".

"When you walk into a place full of talented people, you can't walk away the same person," said Inoke, who selected Jay-Hykel as Singapore's representative.

"Jay will remember the lessons he picks up... he's one of the luckiest people in the world to be around some of the great minds of rugby."


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