D'Acre dreams of catching Aussies on the hop

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 March, 2008, 12:00am

First up a David Campese-assisted Australia - and you can almost hear Hong Kong captain Nigel D'Acre smacking his lips. An Aussie himself, D'Acre is itching for the action to start today.

'We can't wait to meet them. I hope they will be sluggish and we will be able to catch them cold in their first game,' said D'Acre (pictured), conjuring visions of an enormous upset.

Hong Kong take on Australia in the opening game of the tournament. Was it some judicious planning by the home committee, hoping to stack the odds in D'Acre's favour?

'I don't think so,' grinned D'Acre. 'It is just that we are in pool F and with the order of play being reversed this time - last time pool A began the tournament - it just fell to us to play the first game.'

That means an early start for Hong Kong, so home-team fans had better get to the stadium for the 4.30pm kick-off. The days when Hong Kong used to save their best players for the games they felt they could win are long gone. Even though Australia are the seeded side in a pool also comprising France and Tonga, Hong Kong won't be holding back.

'We will certainly not be thinking of saving ourselves for Saturday or Sunday,' said D'Acre.

'Our entire focus is first on game one, then game two and game three in the pool. We are not going to rest anyone. We have beaten Australia before, back in 1996 in Japan.

'Of course, it will be tough. I guess we will have more of a chance against France or Tonga, but we are going for it.

'We are a young team - me aside - and over the past year have gained more experience,' said 34-year-old D'Acre. 'We have been really playing well and things are starting to come together.'

Hong Kong reached the Plate competition last year and finished as the best-placed Asian team in the tournament. The aim is to go one better this time.

'Our goal is to try to get the scalp of one of the big teams. I believe we can do it,' said coach Rodney McIntosh, who is fortunate that most of the players have been part of the national set-up for the past couple of seasons.

Most of the team played last year, and it is this continuity which D'Acre believes will help Hong Kong this weekend.

'If at all, the attitude of the guys seems better than last year,' he said. 'There is such a good feeling within the squad, with everybody wanting the next guy to succeed. And, of course, we are fitter and faster.'

The key to success, however, will be the ability of the forwards to win ball and of the defence to be watertight.'If we can stick to our defensive patterns and keep it tight, there is no question we will score tries,' D'Acre said. 'We have some really quick guys who can match anyone in attack. But it will be up to our defence to win matches.'

For the home team, this is the one and only chance to prove their worth on the international sevens stage, much to the dismay of McIntosh, who said he hoped the International Rugby Board would give lesser nations like Hong Kong more opportunities to figure in the series.

'It is a shame we get to play in one tournament in the IRB Sevens this season. Hopefully, in the future we will get more chances,' he said.