Campese a definite starter for Hong Kong, says Waratahs' coach

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 March, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 March, 1998, 12:00am

David Campese has been called up for Super 12 duty in South Africa, but New South Wales coach Matt Williams has guaranteed that the former Wallaby winger would be available to lead Australia at the March 27-29 Credit Suisse First Boston Hong Kong Sevens.

New South Wales leave today for a testing fortnight in South Africa without the influential Wallaby fullback Matt Burke, who injured his knee on Saturday in the Waratahs' 25-10 win over the Golden Cats (comprising Transvaal and Free State) in Sydney.

Campese, who led Australia to the semi-finals at the Fiji Sevens, has now been drafted into a 25-strong squad. There were fears that he would miss out on the Hong Kong Sevens as NSW are due to play South Africa's Northern Bulls on Saturday in Witbank and Western Stormers, on the Saturday of the Hong Kong Sevens, in Wellington, near Cape Town.

But Waratahs' coach Williams dispelled all doubts of Campese missing out on yet another Hong Kong Sevens.

'Campese will be available to lead Australia at the Hong Kong Sevens. He will only be in our squad for the first game and not the second,' said Williams.

Campese has played only one Super 12 game this season and that, too, coming off the bench.

But with the absence of Burke - who will be out for three weeks - NSW have decided to take the experienced Campese along on this crucial road trip to the republic.

At 24, Burke is the senior member of a youthful backline and the only one with Test experience, and his absence will leave the Waratahs vulnerable at the back in two tough matches.

The Waratahs are currently lying third in the standings after three games.

Two wins in South Africa in the next fortnight would go a long way towards ensuring them a semi-final place.

Campese was picked to lead Australia at sevens this season with the Australian Rugby Union's ultimate aim being the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

The world Test record try-scorer was, however, unable to lift his team at the Fiji Sevens. Australia bowed out 38-5 in the semis of the Cup competition to Fiji, who went on to win the tournament.

A 23-strong women's squad has been announced for a 15-a-side tour of Japan from April 3-13.

The tour party all adhere to the International Rugby Board's three-year eligibility rule and would provide the Hong Kong SAR women's squad their first opportunity to gain full IRB Test status.

The squad will play one provincial game and two Tests against Japan.

Women's squad Charlie Cullen, Chau Chung-fai, Janice Pak Chung, Pang Lai-kuk, Maria Allan, Ruth Mitchell, Sue Pace, Wendy Edwards, Cookie Tse Man-sze, Fish Yu Suk-han, Karen Robertson, Laura Cowan, Molly Emrick, Samantha Scott, Suzanne Morris, Carmen Pang, Doris Chow Pui-kwan, Shek Kwai-fong, Keri Glenday, Mandy Pearson, Rebecca Kynaston, Sharon Ng, Tania Mansfield.