D-day for Hood in race to be fit for London
Coach says key player only at '80 per cent' ahead of crucial core-team qualifiers
Hong Kong head coach Dai Rees will decide today if key player Jamie Hood is fit to spearhead the team's bid this weekend to become a core side on the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Hood's impact on the team has been huge, fitting seamlessly into the position left vacant by Keith Robertson when he left to join a pilot training scheme. He was one of the best players as Hong Kong won the Asian crown last season, named player of the tournament at two events.
But he is still struggling with a shoulder injury incurred during the Hong Kong Sevens. Having been rated as "50-50" by Rees a week ago, the coach now reckons he's improved to 80 per cent, still too big a risk to field at the crucial London Sevens.
Robertson was flown in from pilot training in Australia and is on standby if Hood can't make it.
He has been given another day to prove his fitness, before Rees makes his decision.
"If he is not going to be fairly recovered, it will be tough, as I don't want to play someone who is 80 per cent fit," Rees said. "If we didn't have Keith, we would have obviously gone with Jamie. But now that Keith is available, we will have to make a decision."
The South Island School teacher knows his position is under threat, ever since Robertson turned up, but he has been a team player and not been afraid to reveal the extent of his injury.
"Jamie has been great. He has been very honest about his shoulder. He says it is still painful. He has been selfless and has put the team before himself," said Rees.
But with the stakes high there is no room for sympathy. A hard-headed decision will have to be reached soon as Hong Kong will need to hit the ground running against Georgia, Zimbabwe and Scotland in pool play on Saturday so as to book a relatively easy quarter-final on Sunday, the must-win match of the tournament.
A place in the last four will give Hong Kong two bites at becoming a core team on Sunday and to achieve this, they will need their best available playmaker around.