Hong Kong must stand and deliver, says coach Pale Tauti
Underperforming Hong Kong have been told to "stand up and deliver" when they meet Georgia in their final pool A match in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy at Hong Kong Football Club on Tuesday.
The Hong Kong management has made sure Georgia have been on the minds of skipper Michael Parfitt and his team as they licked their wounds after two losses - against the United States (37-0) and Tonga (39-16) - in the opening week of the under-20 eight-team competition, where the winners qualify for the IRB Junior World Championship in Italy next year.
"The boys have received some tough love over the past few days and been told to stand up and deliver against Georgia," said coach Pale Tauti. "We have called for a change of attitude from the whole team. They have been disappointing and flat, expecting others to do it rather than taking on the responsibility."
Tauti laid the blame squarely on the backline, which has failed to fire despite getting plenty of possession from the forwards, who have held their own in the set pieces.
"We have won the set pieces against both the US and Tonga and have been getting good ball. But, unfortunately, our backs haven't made the most of the opportunities and they have been given a dressing down. We have also struggled to play 80 minutes of rugby, only playing half a game at the most.
"At the beginning of this tournament, I said we would enter every game as the underdogs and that is still the case. What we are looking for is a good performance we can be happy with. Sadly, this has been lacking," Tauti said.
Hong Kong will miss centres Theo Rolston and Joey Dignan, both ruled out due to concussion. Rolston, whose charge down against Tonga led to Hong Kong's solitary try in the competition, is expected to miss the rest of the tournament, while Dignan is set to come back for the play-offs on Saturday. Their absence has resulted in the inclusion of Eric Kwok in the squad.
While Hong Kong are rooted at the bottom of pool A with no points, the United States will be hoping to claim the top spot in the preliminary pool with a win over Tonga and stay on course for a return to the championship.