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Women’s Rugby

Hong Kong up against a Fiji side feeling right at home in their ‘special place’ ahead of World Cup qualifier

Jo Hull hopes an increase in fitness and strength will hold her side in good stead against a ‘passionate, driven and physical’ opponent

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2017, 4:52pm

Hong Kong will face a Fiji outfit on Friday that is ready to draw on the success their sevens side has had in a city that coach Seremaia Bai says is a “special place for us”.

For years Fiji have grown another leg during the Hong Kong Sevens and Bai feels his side can sense the enormity of this occasion.

“The day we arrived the first thing we asked is, ‘Where is So Kon Po’, because when we are growing up we all love the Hong Kong Sevens,” he said.

“To be here is something unique and special for us. I think in the way of the previous achievements of Fijian sevens and even the girls sevens team, we can take something out of that in terms of the mental side of things. I think it will help us.”

The match is the first of three in a round-robin tournament also featuring Japan, with the top two sides progressing to next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland.

This encounter is likely to decide who accompanies powerhouses Japan to the showpiece event and Bai says that while there will be plenty of the famous Fijian entertainment on show at King’s Park, there will also be plenty of substance to back up the flair.

“Just like any Fijian side we want to enjoy ourselves but I’m also very big with sticking to the basics,” he said.

“You just need to win your own set pieces, it is nothing fancy.”

Hong Kong coach Jo Hull is expecting a determined Fiji as both sides vie for their first ever World Cup berth.

“Rugby is in their blood and they know the game, they have been brought up with rugby,” she said.

“We are expecting a very passionate, very driven team and a very physical team as well.

The home side is raring to go after two warm-up matches against Kazakhstan and, with a full complement to choose from, Hull is excited about what lies ahead.

“We are very aware of what the occasion is and we know that we have got to get everything right and we have got to win those physical battles and play smart to beat Fiji,” she said.

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“These girls, I think they are in a really good mindset at the moment so I am happy with where we are at.”

Hong Kong are fitter and stronger than during the Asia Rugby Championship earlier this year, especially the forwards, and Hull is expecting big things from captain and second-rower Chow Mei-nam.

“We are able to play a quicker game now because of the work the tight five are doing,” she said.

“Mei-nam always leads by example, every game she is getting better and better which is great to see.”

Chow is into her second year as captain of the side and feels comfortable in her job as leader of a group that boasts “different kinds of people”.

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“We have full-time players and we have full time workers but we all want to give for the team,” she said.

“We have built up a great team. It is not hard to be the captain of this team because they are very motivated to do what we want to do.”

Hong Kong squad:

Chow Mei-nam (c), Wong Yuen-shan, Karen So Hoi-ting, Lee Ka-shun, Chan Ka-yan, Amelie Seure, Christy Cheng Ka-chi, Melody Li Nim-yan, Jessica Ho Wai-on, Rose Hopewell-Fong, Chong Ka-yan, Natasha Olson-Thorne, Adrienne Garvey, Lau Sze-wa, Colleen Tjosvold, Royce Chan Leong-sze, Lau Nga-wun, Cheung Shuk-han, Winnie Siu Wing-ni, Christine Gordon, Lindsay Varty, Lee Tsz-ting, Kwong Sau-yan.