Asian Five Nations 2014

‘Realistic’ Leigh Jones says Hong Kong face tough task against Japan

Departing head coach maintains victory is not impossible, however, if Brave Blossoms have an off-day

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 10:28pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 November, 2014, 3:35pm

Departing head coach Leigh Jones admitted on Wednesday that Hong Kong face an enormous task to defeat Japan and book the direct berth to the 2015 Rugby World Cup for Asia, but maintained an upset was possible.

"We will have to be at our very best and Japan will need to have an off-day," said Jones, who will be in charge of Hong Kong for the last time before taking on a new challenge as defence coach with Japan.

We will go there and give it our best shot ... this team has the potential to beat anyone on the day
Hong Kong head coach Leigh Jones

"Realistically, it is a difficult ask, and it will be tough and everyone knows what will await us in Tokyo. But we will go there and give it our best shot."

Jones on Wednesday named his 23-man squad for the Asian Five Nations finale in Tokyo on Sunday. The winners will earn the right to represent Asia at the 2015 World Cup in England. The runners-up will go into a repêchage.

Kowloon hooker Alex Harris is the only change from the starting line-up which set the foundation for a handsome 39-6 victory over South Korea two weeks ago at Hong Kong Football Club.

Harris will replace the unavailable Tom Bolland, with Lachlan Chubb coming on to the bench, where he will be joined by fullback Tom McColl and scrum half Kenneth Hsieh.

"These changes have been semi-forced," said Jones. "McColl will replace Nick Wheatley who is about to get married, while Kenneth takes the place of Jamie Hood, who has a slight knock."

With the squad leaving for Tokyo on Thursday, Jones added: "This team has the potential to beat anyone on the day."