Kirk Munro's return to fitness throws open scrumhalf position

Scrumhalf role for the final against Belgium is open with three players in the mix

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 3:23am

Valley scrumhalf Kirk Munro has been declared fit to play in the title-decider at the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations against Belgium tomorrow, leaving senior coach Leigh Jones in a quandary.

"We have to make a decision with Munro being passed fit if we are going to kick one of the other two guys in the teeth or whether we stay loyal to them," said Jones after Hong Kong emerged 51-6 winners over the United Arab Emirates to stay on course to defending their title.

The two scrumhalves, who have fronted up while Munro was recovering from a calf injury, are Charles Cheung and Kenneth Hsieh, both of whom excelled against Zimbabwe and UAE respectively.

Munro is the only player among the nine new faces in the 28-strong squad who has not played but the odds are Jones and the management staff will include the New Zealander.

While the title defence is paramount, the tour is also about building depth in key areas - back row, back three and halves combination - as Hong Kong look at a crowded calendar early next year when the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top Five competition will clash with the London Sevens.

Munro and flyhalf Chris McAdam had been bracketed as possible candidates to fill the key playmaker roles, which will be left vacant if the two squads - sevens and 15s - are separated during that crucial weekend.

The eight-try victory over UAE was a "reasonable day at the office", said Jones, adding that the players were already looking ahead to the clash against the other unbeaten team in the competition, Belgium.

"It was always going to be a difficult for the guys had one eye on Friday. I don't think the lads will be pleased with their performance level. We really left a lot of tries on the table," Jones said.

Hong Kong skipper Tom McColl blamed "over-eagerness" and "trying to score off every phase" and called for more composure tomorrow.

Jones agreed but added: "We had a lot of new combinations out on the park with about seven or eight changes [to the team that beat Zimbabwe 22-7] and it takes time to gel. But now we are in a position with all to play for and we will give it a good shot."