Barbarians unveil strong Tens line-up
Household names of recent vintage like Wallaby scrumhalf George Gregan and All Blacks fullback Christian Cullen are included in a star-studded side to represent the inaugural Asia Pacific Barbarians at the GFI Hong Kong Football Club Tens this month.
Coached by David Campese, the 15-strong squad named yesterday includes a covey of New Zealand and Fiji sevens stars, as well as a player each from Japan, Kazakhstan and Sri Lanka, countries in the Top Five competition at the HSBC Asian Five Nations.
'It is a great squad we have managed to pull together,' Campese said. 'It is a good blend of experience and youth combined with natural attacking instincts, which will hopefully give us the opportunity to entertain but also be competitive.'
The Asia Pacific Barbarians, sponsored by BGC Partners, is a new invitational side set up to follow in the footsteps of the British Barbarians. Former All Blacks captain and legend Sean Fitzpatrick will be the club's first president.
As a Wallaby winger, Campese epitomised attacking rugby, and the Barbarians will be focused on playing an expansive and open game at the March 23-24 Hong Kong Tens.
Campese will have enough talent to work with, including Fijian cousins Apolosi Satala and Viliame Satala and New Zealanders Cullen, Orene Ai'i, Rico Gear and Roy Kinikinilau.
Gregan and Dustin Cooper will represent Australia while Semo Sititi and Hale T'Pole are the lone Samoan and Tongan in the powerful line-up. Sri Lanka's current scrumhalf Fazil Marija has been included, as well as Kazakhstan captain and backrower Timur Mashurov. Japan will be repesented by up-and-coming winger Takuro Miuchi.
'It is an exciting and unique opportunity to unite world-class Asian and Pacific players in one team and bring them to Hong Kong,' said Len Harvey, BGC Partners executive managing director for Asia-Pacific.
'We have some of the best international players of the last decade in George Gregan, Justin Marshall and Christian Cullen, while more than half of the squad has played in one or more World Cups. It promises to be an entertaining few days at the Tens and hopefully they can win some silverware,' Harvey said.
Campese added: 'Playing entertaining rugby will be our main priority. But we are well aware that it will be a tough competition for us.'
The Asia Pacific Barbarians will be making their debut in an expanded Hong Kong Tens with the organisers, Hong Kong Football Club, increasing the number of teams from 16 to 24 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the club.
They will stand a good chance of making a big impact, and even winning silverware, with defending champions Aliens from New Zealand not returning to defend their title.
Organisers will name the full lineup of teams shortly.
Asia Pacific Barbarian squad: Apolosi Satali (Fiji), Christian Cullen (NZ), Dustin Cooper (Australia), Fasil Majari (Sri Lanka), George Gregan (Australia), Gus Qasevakatini (Fiji), Hale T'Pole (Tonga), Justin Marshall (NZ), Orene Ai'i (NZ), Rico Gear (NZ), Roy Kinikinilau (NZ), Semo Sititi (Samoa), Takuro Miuchi (Japan), Timur Mashurov (Kazakhstan), Viliame Satala (Fiji). Coach: David Campese (Aust). President & Manager: Sean Fitzpatrick (NZ)