Kowloon in battle to get their top players fit
Nine players, including three key forwards, were given time off training last night as double-seeking Altus Kowloon desperately try to recuperate and recover in time for Saturday's Grand Championship final against Newedge Club at King's Park.
'We are a team of walking wounded. Almost everyone has a niggling injury, five guys are receiving treatment from the physio and nine players didn't train with us last night. We are hopeful everyone will be fit and ready by Saturday,' said Kevin McBarron, Kowloon's director of rugby, yesterday.
A tough semi-final encounter last Saturday against Leighton Asia HKCC, which Kowloon won 28-17, has come at a huge cost with influential No8 David Tait, flanker Mark Goosen and loosehead prop Andrew Li all on the injury list. Tait has a calf strain and Li is carrying a neck problem while Goosen has seen a hamstring problem flare up again.
'These three are the major worries. Hopefully they will all be able to train on Thursday night after which we have to declare our final 22 for the game,' McBarron said. 'A lot is riding on these, and other, guys being fit.'
Kowloon won the league title - for the first time in 30 years - in controversial circumstances. They benefited after the second-round result against Hong Kong Football Club on January 14, which they lost, was revoked and six points were awarded to them. Club were penalised for fielding Nigel Hobler, who was unregistered and ineligible.
Kowloon won the league with a two-point margin over Tradition Valley. Club finished third, four points adrift, and would have felt aggrieved that if not for those lost points, they would have clinched the title.
The Grand Final clash between the two will be mouthwatering as both teams will have a lot to prove. But McBarron's biggest worry for now is his casualty list.
'The good thing is that our seconds lost in the semi-final of the Premiership 'A' last week and they are all available for selection. We have got depth in every position but naturally none of these players are as powerful as the first team lot,' McBarron said.
'However, this is Cup football and if given the opportunity, I'm certain these guys will step up and take their chance to shine. We remain confident, for we know there is plenty at stake.'