Hong Kong women aim to show their mettle in Asian Four Nations
Hong Kong are aiming for a top-three finish in the Women’s Asian Four Nations championship in a bid to secure their future of playing against the best in the region and further developing their own game, said head coach Chris Garvey.
The hosts will confront a formidable challenge from Asia’s number one fifteens side Kazakhstan and second and third seeds Japan and Singapore in the four-team round-robin competition at Aberdeen Stadium starting on Sunday.
“The more times we pit ourselves against the best in Asia the better for our own game,” said Garvey.
“While our premier women’s league is good, there is no substitute for playing against the best. To achieve this target, we will have to make sure we finish in the top three in next week’s Asian Four Nations,” Garvey said.
Hong Kong will be boosted by the inclusion of its national women’s sevens players from the elite athlete programme at the Hong Kong Sports Institute for the region’s premier women’s 15s competition, which is set to follow in the footsteps of the men with the Top Five turning into a Top Three next season.
“These are the same opponents we faced in the World Cup qualifiers last year. We fielded an inexperienced team then as none of our sevens squad was involved as they were preparing for the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens,” Garvey said.
“We lost to Singapore on that occasion and we will be hoping to make amends this time. That game will be our final, but we also hope to surprise a few people when we take on Kazakhstan and Japan.”
Hong Kong will benefit from being able to draw on its first generation of fully professional players who are enrolled at the HKSI in the Rugby Sevens programme.
More than half of the squad is part of the sevens programme at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, but prop Clara Cheng Cheuk-yui and second-rower Stephanie Ching Tsz-yung are set to make their Hong Kong debuts during the competition.
“We had an extended squad in training and it gave me the chance to see a number of new players. We have now picked what we believe are our best combinations and our aim is to see how far we have come and test ourselves against the likes of Kazakhstan,” said Garvey, a PE teacher at Kellett School.
Hong Kong, who will be led by flanker Christy Cheng Ka-chi, will face a stern test meeting Asian champions Kazakhstan on Sunday, followed by Japan next Wednesday and Singapore three days later.
Hong Kong squad
Emmy Chan Hoi-ping (Gai Wu), Royce Chan Leong-sze (HKFC), Cheng Cheuk-yui (Police), Christy Cheng Ka-chi (captain, Gai Wu), Cheng Tsz-ting (Gai Wu), Ching Tsz-yung (Gai Wu), Rose Fong Siu-lan (CWB), Christine Gordon (Valley), Ho Hoi-lam (Gai Wu), Elizabeth Iafeta (Valley), Kwong Sau-yan (Tai Po Dragons), Lai Pou-fan (DeA), Lau Nga-wun (Gai Wu), Lee Ka-shun (Gai Wu), Lee Allison (HKFC), Melody Li Nim-yan (Gai Wu), Nam Ka-man (DeA), Ng Suet-ying (Kowloon), Natasha Olson-Thorne (DeA), Poon Pak-yan (Gai Wu), Elizabeth Mai Schroder (DeA), Amelie Seure (Valley), Sham Wai-sum (Gai Wu), Tsang Wing-lam (DeA), Wong Yuen-shan (DeA), Yuen Lok-yee (Kowloon).
Match schedule (Aberdeen Stadium, seeding in brackets)
Round I: Hong Kong (4) v Kazakhstan (1), Sunday, 5pm
Round II: Hong Kong v Japan (2), Wednesday, 5pm
Round III: Hong Kong v Singapore (3), Saturday, 3pm