Despite endorsement from ex-All Black Justin Marshall, SRU wants youngster to not get “big-headed”
New Zealand All Blacks legend Justin Marshall has delivered a glowing report card for Jay-Hykel Jailani, whom he coached at the recent Hong Kong Tens.
As the only Singaporean selected by the Asia Pacific Dragons invitational squad, Jay-Hykel will “no doubt” become a better player as a result of the experience, said Marshall, and the immediate next step is for him to “process” what he has picked up.
The national utility player starred at the HSBC Asian Sevens last year and earned the chance to train with the likes of former Wallabies George Smith and Radike Samo, Fiji’s Rupeni Caucaunibuca and the Samoan pair Alesana Tuilagi and Mikaele Pesamino.
He played for the Dragons’ ‘B’ team in Hong Kong, reaching the semi-finals before getting knocked out by the ‘A’ team, who went on to win the prestigious tournament.
“He didn’t look out of place at all to me,” Marshall said of the 20-year-old. “The environment he went into was a great environment because it was a combination of the development process of players and… he got to mix in those circles, coached by Tana Umaga and Danny Lee, coaches at the top level.
“His biggest thing he’ll be doing now after his experience is processing all that information.
“At that time it’s probably a lot.”
The Singapore Rugby Union (SRU), however, wishes to emphasise that there is depth in the national team despite Jay-Hykel’s standout selection.
Vice-president Jonathan Leow said, “Jay’s risen his profile a little bit but he’s part of a wider squad that we are developing – short-term for the SEA Games 2015, and also for a wider situation, how we can improve 7s and 15s rugby in Singapore.
“The coaches decided Jay had the most potential and he was available for this opportunity. When the next opportunity comes around, we have to relook again. It could be Jay, it could be somebody else. At the end of the day, what’s important is they stay on track, so we don’t want Jay to get big-headed or whatever it is.”
The most-capped scrum-half in All Blacks history, Marshall was in Singapore to promote June’s World Club 10s, slated to be the first sporting event at the new National Stadium.
Along with Australia’s Brumbies and France’s Biarritz Olympique, his Dragons will compete at the eight-team tournament.
The five remaining sides have not been announced, although sources say major rugby-playing countries New Zealand, South Africa and England – who together have five World Cup wins – will be represented.
Will he be in a bind if his team comes up against a Kiwi outfit?
“If it was the Crusaders (his former team) maybe, but no, not really,” he answered with a laugh.
“You got to take away that biased nature so for me it’s all about the Dragons winning – unfortunately for the Crusaders if they were the team out here.”
Whatever the line-up, the Dragons will be considered a favourite, after also winning November’s Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens.
Click on for more about the World Club 10s, who Marshall considers the best scrum-half today, and his list of the best players ever