Hong Kong Sevens

Canada won't take Hong Kong lightly at Sevens, says coach

Coach says his side will prepare as if the home side were a top-level team

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 2013, 3:12am

Canada will not take Hong Kong and their "40,000 supporters" lightly, said head coach Geraint John, who added the hosts of this week's Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens were unlucky not to be part of the IRB World Series this season.

"I thought Hong Kong were the unluckiest team in the [qualifying] competition last year. They played some of the best rugby and probably deserved to be one of the best three teams to go through," said John. "I know they will be well-prepared once again".

John went to university with Hong Kong counterpart Dai Rees (the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff) and has been keeping abreast of what has been happening here. And he isn't under-estimating the challenge the home team will present when the sides clash on Saturday.

Hong Kong have targeted Canada and Spain - both qualifiers last year to core-team status - as games to win. The other team in Hong Kong's preliminary-round pool are defending champions Fiji.

John said: "We know Hong Kong's preparation is towards London and to go through to become a core team next season. But they have 40,000 people supporting them and they have the home stadium and we will make sure that we prepare as if we are playing against one of the top teams.

"If it wasn't for the loss against Japan [last year] when one of their players got red-carded [in the first minute of the game [Keith Robertson was sent off for what the referee believed was a spear tackle] I thought they would have won core-team status. They played very well throughout the tournament and we will not be taking them for granted."

John saw the McQueen brothers, Alex and Tom, as "very abrasive and very fast" and the players to watch out for.

But it will not be easy for Hong Kong. Canada are placed 10th in the standings after five legs and have arrived here on a high after successful campaigns in Wellington and Las Vegas, where they won the Bowl and Plate titles, beating the likes of Fiji, South Africa and Kenya.

"We have a settled squad who have done well all season," said John. "We have had a pretty good run this season, especially in Wellington when we won the Bowl defeating Fiji. "To be in the position where we are now, 10th, I would have taken that at the start of the season."