Kazakhstan get down to business
Kazakhstan had their first run together as a team - that is since playing five months ago at the Asian Championships in Sri Lanka - at the Hong Kong Football Club yesterday.
Never mind Hong Kong, the biggest worry for Kazakh captain Timur Mashurov is whether his players will gel together in time for their opening game in the HSBC Asian Five Nations tomorrow.
'We haven't played as a team since our last tournament, the Asian Championships in Colombo last November. In fact we only met one day before coming to Hong Kong,' said Mashurov, a massive No.8 forward.
Mashurov added: 'Five of our guys play club rugby in Russia while the others are spread all over the country. This is our first training session as a team. It is very difficult to get the team together as we all have jobs. I think we will get better as this tournament progresses.' That will indeed be good news for Hong Kong who will be aiming to win their second successive game in this inaugural tournament.
A 20-12 win over the Arabian Gulf last Saturday in Al Ain followed by another win tomorrow at Football Club (kick-off 4pm) will boost Hong Kong's hopes before they take on big guns Japan and Korea.
It will be the first ever meeting between Hong Kong and Kazakhstan.
They can expect a bruising battle up-front with Mashurov leading a big pack who will want to keep the game tight and controlled.
'Our aim at the moment is to be in the top three in Asia. We hope we can challenge Hong Kong.
'We've made huge progress in the last couple of years and hope to continue this. We are looking forward to playing in this tournament,' said Stanislav Knorr, the chairman of the Federation of Rugby of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan are ranked 32 in the world, two spots behind Hong Kong.