South Korea

Heavyweight Nolan set for return after injury

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 May, 2012, 12:00am

Front-row strongman Steve Nolan is expected to make his HSBC Asian Five Nations debut on Saturday against South Korea as Hong Kong look to build on their opening match victory over the United Arab Emirates in the Top Five competition.

But while the injury cloud over Nolan disappears, another has cropped up with flyhalf Keith Robertson returning from Dubai over the weekend with his arm in a sling.

There is also some worry over the fitness of prop Alex Ng Wai-shing who hurt his back after coming on as a second-half substitute in the emphatic 85-10 victory over UAE.

'Steve is looking good. He is most likely to be fit and available and we probably will start with him for he is a key scrummager,' said Dai Rees, national coach and Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's head of performance, yesterday.

'At present he is 80 to 90 per cent fit and as long as he doesn't break down in the next couple of training sessions, he will play against KoreaHis rehabilitation has gone well,' Rees added.

Tighthead prop Nolan had surgery on a broken ankle in January and was recovering well but was forced to sit out the UAE match due to a calf strain. His 128-kilogram heavyweight presence anchoring the scrum will be much needed as Hong Kong take on Asia's former No2 team Korea at Hong Kong Football Club.

Playmaker Robertson was hurt in a tackle in the opening minutes against UAE, when he was upended and landed on his shoulder. He was replaced at the break by Jamie Hood.

'Keith was in pain but he is the sort of guy who doesn't whinge and he carried on,' Rees said. 'But we felt it was best he come off. Luckily it is just soft tissue damage and we hope he will be okay to play on Saturday.'

Despite their 14-try rampage, Hong Kong realise they will have to lift their game a couple of notches against a Korean team returning to the Top Five competition after being relegated in 2010 to Division One.

'We haven't seen much of them for the last year or more, but we know they will pose a strong challenge with most of their players being involved professionally in Japan,' Rees said.

In the other game this weekend, UAE face Japan in Fukuoka.

32

Points scored by Hong Kong the last time they faced South Korea in the Asian Five Nations in 2010. The home game finished 32-8.