Playing full-time remains Hong Kong's goal
Sevens players still want pro status despite failure to grab core team status
Captain Rowan Varty and the majority of his teammates still intend to become full-time athletes at the Hong Kong Sports Institute despite their failure to land a core-team berth in the HSBC Sevens World Series next season.
"Nothing has changed," trainee solicitor Varty said yesterday. "Yes, it is disappointing we couldn't quite achieve the dream of playing full-time on the world series. But there is so much more and the main focus at the Sports Institute has always been on winning medals at the Asian Games and qualifying for the Olympics."
He added: "I will have to talk to my employers, but I hope I can go full-time for a year or so as we chase these objectives. But it will all depend on what the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union does now. We still haven't heard."
HKRFU head of performance and national coach Dai Rees said the union's directors would meet soon to decide what shape the programme at the Sports Institute will take.
"Our result in London will not have any impact on our plans. I expect we will have a clearer picture in the next couple of weeks," Rees said.
While those players who don't hold down full-time jobs - like scrumhalf Cado Lee Ka-to - and those working for the HKRFU - such as Salom Yiu Kam-shing who is a coach - have already indicated they will take up the full-time opportunities, others like Varty have also indicated their willingness to become full-time athletes.
"If I can get permission to take time off for a year, I would love to join the Sports Institute," said fireman Kwok Ka-chun.
Tom McQueen, who along with his brother Alex, works in the fitness industry, said he too would seize the chance. "Yes this is something both of us would like to do," said winger Tom McQueen.
Ben Rimene, who runs a gym along with Lee Jones, also indicated he would be keen to give the institute a shot.
Hong Kong are facing a crowded sevens calendar over the next few months. They have been invited to play in the World Games in Colombia in August. The China National Games this summer is also on the cards following which Hong Kong will defend their Asian crown in the Asian Sevens Series. Next year, the Asian Games take place in Incheon.
Hong Kong fell short in their pursuit of core team status for the second successive year when they were beaten 29-14 in the quarter-finals by Spain, who along with Scotland and Portugal went on to retain their berths at the top table.