South Korea coach Jung Sam-young has made only three changes to his squad ahead of Saturday’s crucial Asian Five Nations match against Hong Kong at Hong Kong Football Club.
Coach Jung has retained his starting forward pack with danger man Kim Jeong-min at open side flanker. Kim scored a hat-trick in his side’s 59-3 win against Sri Lanka two weeks ago, as the Koreans size and weight advantage saw seven of nine tries scored by the forward pack.
Four members of that pack – captain and prop Kim Kwang-sik, lock Youn Kwon-woo, flanker Park Soon-chai and number eight Lee Kwang-moon – play professionally in Japan, together with scrum-half Yang Young-hun.
The squad’s changes come in the back line with scrum-half Yang coming into the team for the Hong Kong match. After earning a start against Sri Lanka, fly-half Lee Eu-dum moves to the bench to make room for Oh Youn-hyung, last year’s top scorer in the A5N Top Five with 68 points. Jeong Yeon-sik will take over at full-back with Kim Kwang-min moving to the left wing.
The only change in the forwards sees prop Kim Sung-hwan replacing Jeon Young-jae in the reserves.
Coach Jung says he is happy with the team’s build-up to the match. “I have been able to pick the strongest side available for Hong Kong. Our preparations have gone very well and they have been fun because we have tried to make them more player-centred, so the players are in a good spirit.
“All along we have targeted this game and beating Hong Kong, so this match is very important to keep our campaign on track. We know that Hong Kong will be physical so the battle for possession will be key,” Jung added.
Both Hong Kong and South Korea enter the match undefeated, with the Koreans having a game in hand after beating Sri Lanka on the opening weekend of the A5N, which serves as the final round of Asian qualification for the 2015 World Cup.
South Korea have enjoyed the better of recent matches between the two sides with a win last year on the final week of the tournament, beating Hong Kong 43-22 in Seoul. When the teams last met in Hong Kong, the Koreans came from behind with three minutes remaining to clinch a narrow 21-19 victory.
Hong Kong last beat South Korea in the 2010 A5N, winning 32-8 in the year Korea was relegated to Division I.
South Korea squad
1-Kim Kwang-sik (captain); 2-Kim Jeep 3-Park Jong-yeol; 4-Kim Ho-bum; 5-Youn Kwon-woo; 6-Park Soon-chai; 7-Kim Jeong-min; 8-Lee Kwang-moon; 9-Yang Young-hun; 10-Oh Youn-hyung; 11-Kim Gwong-min; 12-Park No-hoon; 13-Kim Nam-uk; 14-Kim Won-yong; 15-Jeong Yeon-sik
Replacements: 16-Son Young-ki; 17-Shin Dong-won; 18-Kim Sung-hwan 19-Song Byeong-ho; 20-Kim Hyun-soo; 21-Shin Ki-cheol; 22-Jang Seong-min; 23-Lee Eu-dum