Coach Hull keeps the faith against Lionesses as Hong Kong women open for Super Rugby’s Sunwolves in Singapore
Hong Kong women’s coach Jo Hull has selected a largely unchanged squad from last week’s home Test against Japan for this weekend’s clash with Singapore which will serve as the opener for the Sunwolves’ final match to be played at their “other” home.
Before the Japanese Super Rugby newcomers battle to avenge last month’s 19-46 loss to South Africa’s Stormers, Hong Kong will take on Singapore at the National Stadium as they prepare for round two of the 2016 Women’s Asia Rugby Championship in Tokyo in two weeks.
For Hull, who is in charge of her first regional championship as coach, Singapore are a relative unknown, but despite the fact they place their international rugby a tier below Hong Kong she is expecting a good challenge come Saturday.
“We don’t know too much about Singapore but we expect their forwards will be dominant and know that they have a good number of their sevens team in the squad,” she said.
“They will be massively up for this match being played in the new stadium as well, but our focus continues to be on our own processes and correcting some of the faults we identified against Japan.
“We know we have a job to do after last weekend. Our focus has been on defence and our set-piece, as well as improving our accuracy in attack. We had a lot of opportunities against Japan but our accuracy wasn’t where we needed it to be. Singapore will provide another opportunity for us to refine [our] ability to play under pressure,” added Hull.
Hull has made three changes to the side which lost 39-3 to the Sakura 15 in round one – experienced fly-half Lai Pou-fan joins the match-day squad for the first time this season as Rose Fong Siu-lan moves to inside centre.
Lindsay Varty and Lau Sze-wa will start on bench, replacing Lee Tsz-ting and Nam Ka-man. Lee started at inside centre against Japan and Fong takes her place against Singapore, while Nam was a replacement in the opening round of the women’s championship.
“We want to use this game to trial some new combinations,” said Hull. “Lai brings a lot of experience and is a quality player, especially in attack. Rose is a natural 10 or 12 so there is no problem with her moving along the line. The addition of Dailo [Lai] should also help us improve our accuracy in the back line, which was an issue against Japan.
“Lindsay also adds another layer of experience and is very versatile and can play at scrum-half or on the wing. She’s strong defensively, which is something we have been focusing on this week. [Lau] Sze-wa is a real attacking threat and I’m excited to see her play.
Hull sees the tie against Singapore as a huge opportunity for her charges.
“This game is massive for us in preparing for the away leg in Japan. Last week was our first match in five months so some of the issues were understandable, but I want action and not words and I am expecting our senior players to step-up against Singapore,” she added.
“I was really impressed by the attitude in the squad. The girls were bitterly disappointed with the result against Japan but they aren’t feeling sorry for themselves and I’m pleased with the way they came into training this week.
“But now it’s time for some application. The girls are determined to address the issues from last week, but at some point we need to produce the results … and that starts on Saturday,” Hull said.
Hong Kong women’s line-up
1. Lau Nga-wun; 2. Winnie Siu Wing-ni; 3. Cheung Shuk-han; 4. Claire Forster; 5. Chow Mei-nam (c); 6. Christine Gordon; 7. Melody Li Nim-yan; 8. Amelie Seure; 9. Colleen Tjosvold; 10. Lai Pou-fan; 11. Chong Ka-yan; 12. Rose Fong Siu-lan; 13. Natasha Olson-Thorne; 14. Aggie Poon Pak-yan; 15. Adrienne Garvey
Replacements: 16. Karen So Hoi-ting; 17. Ku Hoi-ying; 18. Angela Chan Ka-yan; 19 Cheng Ching-to; 20. Tsang Sharon Shin-yuen; 21. Lindsay Varty; 22. Cheng Tsz-ting; 23. Lau Sze-wa