Former champions Aliens have put the accent on youth as they attempt to win the GFI HKFC Tens for the first time since 2005. The perennial Kiwi contenders, third seeds this year, have included three promising schoolboys in their squad on the recommendation of New Zealand great Eric Rush.
The trio - Ashton Tuck, Billy James Ropira and Kimami Sitauti - will strut their stuff when the two-day tournament kicks off at Hong Kong Football Club today.
'Eric Rush has told me these guys can be future All Blacks,' said Aliens coach Willie Los'e. 'I can only follow the advice of a great player like Eric, put my trust in them and let them show their skills. I don't think these guys will disappoint anyone. They've got tremendous attitude and they're great ambassadors for the sport.'
Los'e is particularly excited by Sitauti, just 16 years old and a pupil at the prestigious Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland.
'Eric told me he wanted to take Kimami to play at the national sevens, but he was six months too young at the time, so he recommended we bring him to Hong Kong,' said Los'e. 'Having seen him in training, I can't wait to see him play.'
Second-seeded Penguins are back at the Tens a year after reaching the Cup final on their first appearance in the tournament. The elite UK-based touring team have brought a powerful squad that includes two IRB Sevens record holders.
Amasio Valence is New Zealand's most prolific scorer in IRB Sevens history with 1,124 points, while Fiji's Saula Rabaka holds the record for the most individual points in a game - 32 in a 71-0 win over Malaysia in Shanghai in 2001.
Fortis New Zealand Metro - champions for the past two years - are top seeds for this year's tournament. Their line-up includes Tonga's Rugby World Cup captain, Nili Latu. In all, 16 teams from around the world will be going for glory in the Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield at the Tens.
Pool matches take place today, starting at 11am, while tomorrow will see the knockout rounds being played.
Fans can gain admission by purchasing two-day tickets, costing HK$200 each, at Hong Kong Football Club.