Hong Kong sevens coach gets valuable insight into fringe players
Gareth Baber will return with a better idea of the depth of local sevens rugby after the Hong Kong Dragons, the men's sevens development team, won the Plate competition at the Margaret River Sevens in Perth on Sunday.
A 12-strong squad comprising mostly players on the fringes of the national team took part in the two-day competition which featured experienced players as well as seasoned sevens specialists from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England.
The Hong Kong Dragons won the Plate final 21-5 against Outlaws, a strong mix of southern hemisphere players.
The tournament has given Baber, the head sevens coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, a deeper insight into what is available in terms of quality locally as Hong Kong ambitiously looks towards becoming a core team on the HSBC Sevens World Series.
"Our objective was to develop more players at this level and find out more about individuals. There are some players that I am seeing a side of and a character of that I haven't seen before, and there are both positives and negatives," Baber said.
"All the players were put in pressure situations and there are a number of individuals that have put their hands up and shown me that they have got that ability, while at the same time there are others who are struggling a bit."
Valley youngster Max Woodward captained the team that defeated the Perth-based sevens specialists Outlaws, leading the way with a try. Jonny Rees and Gary Wong also touched down.
The focus for Baber and the players is now very much the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, which will include a 12-team qualifying tournament to unearth the new core team for next season's World Series. Winning that spot is one of the priorities for Baber and his team at the HKSI, the other being qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.