Ex-captain's injury leaves Sevens team hamstrung

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 March, 2012, 12:00am

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Former Hong Kong captain Mark Wright will need a 'miracle' to play in this month's Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens after returning from Japan with a hamstring injury. Wright, whose inspirational presence helped lift Hong Kong to a silver medal at the Asian Games in Guangzhou 15 months ago, would be sorely missed as the hosts go in hunt of one of three core-team berths in the HSBC Sevens World Series in 2013.

His absence plus continuing doubts over the fitness of Mark Goosen could leave Hong Kong sorely lacking ball-winning forwards at the March 23-25 tournament.

'It is a blow. Mark has been sidelined for the past four weeks in Japan. We had his fitness assessed and it doesn't look good,' said Hong Kong national coach Dai Rees. 'Barring a miracle, I can't see him recovering in time.'

Wright has been playing for second division side Toyota Shokki Shuttles, who lost a crucial promotion game at the weekend. Wright also missed last year's Hong Kong Sevens because of injury.

Hong Kong national team physiotherapist Justin Faulkner had taken a look at Wright and his assessment was bleak, according to Rees. It is hoped Wright will be fit in time for the HSBC Asian Five Nations (15s) Top Five competition which gets under way on April 27. There is also a cloud hanging over Kowloon openside flanker Goosen, who missed Saturday's Grand Championship final because of a shoulder injury.

Rees will trim his 21-man training squad to 16 on Saturday before naming his final 12 on March 17. The Sevens is the following weekend.

Hong Kong are in pool D in the newly created Sevens World Series qualifiers and will come up against Tonga, Uruguay and China in the preliminary round. The first target will be to finish in the top two in the pool or, failing that, secure one of two best third-placed teams from among the three pools.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Sevens debutants Guyana will gear up for their ground-breaking trip by stopping over in San Diego for a week before arriving in Hong Kong, to train with the US national sevens team.

Guyana, winners of the North American Caribbean Rugby Association championships for the past six years, will be the 51st nation to take part in this tournament since its inception in 1976.