Armour out for Top Five finale after Japan citing
Hong Kong will be without Ross Armour for their final game in the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top Five competition against Kazakhstan on Saturday after the fullback received a two-match ban as a result of a citing against Japan.
Armour was cited for going in with his knees and hitting a Japanese try-scorer after he had touched down in Tokyo at the weekend. He was immediately apologetic and the referee didn't take any more action other than awarding Japan a penalty from the halfway mark when play restarted after the conversion.
'It was really a clumsy challenge and nothing more. There was nothing deliberate about it and it wasn't perceived as dangerous which saw his penalty being reduced from a three-match ban to two matches,' said Hong Kong coach Dai Rees.
Armour will now sit out the last of Hong Kong's four games in the Top Five competition against Kazakhstan at Mongkok Stadium. But his absence is unlikely to be felt, with Alex McQueen ready to step in.
While Armour is definitely ruled out, a question mark hovers over fly-half Keith Robertson and tighthead prop Steve Nolan, both of whom are carrying injuries. Robertson, who has been injury-prone throughout this campaign, hurt a knee in a tackle and limped out midway through the 67-0 loss while Nolan struggled with an ankle injury.
'Keith is 50-50. He has bruised his knee badly and it is swollen right now. We will only know in the next 24 hours how bad it is once the swelling goes down,' Rees said. 'If he can't train [tonight] then it is doubtful he will be okay.'
Robertson began the campaign against the United Arab Emirates, but missed the following game against South Korea at home due to a shoulder injury. The playmaker returned to action against Japan, but now is in doubt again.
Nolan has aggravated his left ankle, which he broke in December playing in the Emirates Airlines Cup of Nations in Dubai. Nolan didn't figure in the opening game's 85-10 victory over the UAE but played against South Korea and Japan, coming off at half-time against the latter.
'We will have to assess his fitness and hopefully he will be okay,' Rees said.
Following two consecutive losses, against South Korea and Japan, Hong Kong will want to finish on a high.
'The mood is still upbeat in the camp. We didn't play badly against Japan. It was just that it was a very good performance from them, one of the best I have seen,' Rees said.