Hong Kong beefs up Mumbai Sevens squad after 6 players get injured
Mumbai Sevens squad beefed up with six players battered and bruised in local action
A tough opening fortnight in the domestic competition has left six Hong Kong internationals battered and bruised, forcing national coach Dai Rees to take an extended squad of 14 players for the Mumbai Sevens this weekend.
The list of injured is worthy of a roll-call at an emergency ward as Hong Kong bid to put the icing on the cake at the last ranking event in the HSBC Asian Sevens Series by knocking defending champions Japan off their pedestal. That could depend on how quickly six players recover in the next few days.
The injured are Eni Gesinde (wrenched knee), Tom McQueen (broken nose), Lee Jones (twisted ankle), Jamie Hood (ankle), Ant Haynes (ankle) and Ben Rimene (ankle). With doubts over their fitness, Hong Kong will leave tonight for India with an extra two players on standby.
"We have until Friday to name our final 12. This gives me a little more flexibility and gives the guys carrying injuries more time to recover," Rees said yesterday. "I'm confident they will be passed fit and we will be at full strength."
Having won the Shanghai Sevens, Hong Kong are poised to displace Japan - who stayed away from Shanghai due to political wrangling over the Diaoyus Islands - as Asia's number one sevens team and enter the fourth leg of the Asian Sevens Series in Singapore (in November), which doubles as the regional qualifiers for Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, as top seeds.
"The number one priority is to be seeded in the top two for the World Cup qualifiers, but there is the added incentive now of the winner of this series booking a berth in the core teams competition at the Hong Kong Sevens, as well as at the season-ending leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in London," Rees said.
Hong Kong are pooled with the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and India in the preliminary round in Mumbai this weekend. On paper, they should emerge top of the pool and meet Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals, South Korea in the semi-finals and Japan in the final. For the first time, 16 teams are taking part in a leg of this series.