Mark Wright and Keith Robertson boost Asian Games hopes
Dai Rees welcomes news of their availability, as uncertainty reigns over eligibility of others for Incheon
Former captain Mark Wright and playmaker Keith Robertson have made themselves available for Hong Kong's Asian Games sevens campaign in Incheon, South Korea, in September.
The return of the two stalwarts will go some way to making up for the absence of three key players - Nick Hewson, Lee Jones and Ben Rimene - who do not have SAR passports or permanent ID cards as they have not yet been resident for seven years.
They also do not fall into the category of athletes the Hong Kong Olympic Committee is trying to get a dispensation for: those who played at the last Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010.
Pang Chung, secretary general of the Hong Kong Olympic Committee, has said they will fight for the inclusion of athletes who don't have passports but appeared at previous Games.
"We have a number of athletes who are applying for their SAR passports, like Keith Robertson, and one who does not have a passport but played in Guangzhou - Jamie Hood," said Dai Rees, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's head of technical development and performance.
"Nick [Hewson], Lee [Jones] and Ben [Rimene] will not be able to apply for SAR passports as they have to get their permanent residency first. Nick completes his seven years in November, the other two early next year. But despite their absence, we are confident of fielding a strong side."
Forward Wright, who is playing club rugby in Japan and has an SAR passport, has indicated his availability, as has Robertson, a pilot with Cathay Pacific.
"The rest of the squad have local passports or are going through the process of applying for passports," Rees said. "Among this lot are Chris Maize, Raef Morrison and Josh Peters."
For the first time, the Asian Games will follow Olympic eligibility rules requiring athletes to have a passport of the country they represent. Apart from rugby, cricket and cycling have been affected but the committee has approached the Olympic Council of Asia seeking dispensation, allowing athletes who took part in previous Games to go to Incheon.