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Hong Kong Rugby Union

Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones rings the changes for Cup of Nations clash with Zimbabwe

Ben Roberts, Thomas Lamboley and Marcus Ramage to debut as home side look to make it two wins from two starts in the tournament; in the other match, Russia take on Papua New Guinea

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 November, 2016, 6:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 4:30pm

Eighteen-year-old winger Marcus Ramage is one of three players set to debut for Hong Kong in Tuesday’s Cup of Nations match with Zimbabwe.

He joins Valley number eight Thomas Lamboley and Hong Kong Cricket Club hooker Ben Roberts as the total number of new faces seen in the tournament rises to eight.

Born in Hong Kong, Ramage – whose twin brother Gregor is in the Hong Kong under 20 squad – returned to the city this year from Britain to play for Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish.

An impressive start to the season saw him rocket into selection contention and Dai Rees, the HKRU general manager of performance rugby, is excited by what Ramage brings to the side.

“He’s been part of the Scotland age grades through the years and he’s come over and he’s dominated for Scottish,” Rees said.

“He’s been given the opportunity on his first four or five performances with Scottish. He’s a real talent, has a high work rate and you don’t have many 18-year-olds with his kind of quality come through the system that often.”

Watch: Hong Kong v Papua New Guinea highlights

Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones has made wholesale changes and will field a completely new starting 15 to the one that sweep aside Papua New Guinea on Friday, with stars Ben Rimene and Jamie Hood among the additions.

The inclusion of Roberts and Lamboley adds further to the depth that Jones is building within the squad.

“Ben [Roberts] is very much a senior player within the group and very much a leader,” Rees said.

“We are expecting lots from him. We are excited to see Lamboley pull on a Hong Kong shirt for the first time. He’s a good line-out forward and probably gives us more options at the line-out than Dan [Falvey] who played last game.”

Watch: Russia v Zimbabwe highlights

Zimbabwe started their campaign with a gutsy 19-15 loss to Russia in a game where they had their chances to win and Rees knows Hong Kong will have to be on their toes.

“It was an excellent performance by Zimbabwe [against Russia],” Rees said.

First-time Hong Kong captain Ed Rolston ready to write his own script after rugby intermission

“They looked far more organised than they did this time last year. They were very physical, they seemed to be bigger and more powerful than last year so we are expecting a tough day at the office.”

Hong Kong must win against Zimbabwe to set up a series decider with last year’s winners Russia this coming Saturday and other inclusions include promising young second rower Finlay Field and gun backs Ryan Meacheam and Alex McQueen.

Hong Kong squad

Nick Hewson (captain), Adam Fullgrabe, Ben Roberts, Alex Ng Wai-shing, Finlay Field, Adrian Griffiths, Toby Fenn, Thomas Lamboley, Jamie Hood, Ben Rimene, Marcus Ramage, Lee Jones, Ally Maclay, Ryan Meacheam, Alex McQueen, John Markley, Jack Parfitt,
 Rohan Cook, Will Eversfield, James Cunningham, Cado Lee Ka-to, Rowan Varty, Ed Rolston.