Women’s Rugby

Hong Kong want to be number one Asian team in 2017 World Cup, says coach Jo Hull

Saturday’s game against Japan will decide which pool each side is in and will also provide the hosts with the chance to gain the psychological edge

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 5:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2017, 4:54pm

Hong Kong are determined to be the number one Asian team at next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup and achieving that feat starts on Saturday against Japan.

Hong Kong are currently ranked 23rd, six spots behind their opponents, and while they may struggle to officially enter the World Cup as the best Asian team, they can certainly get an early edge in the psychological battle.

“We don’t want to be second in Asia, we want to be first and we are very clear about that in terms of our vision for this team,” coach Jo Hull said.

“You’ve got an incredibly disciplined and focused group of women here.”

Hull’s side is presented with the perfect opportunity to not only begin their preparation against a team that will be in Ireland next year, but also make a statement of intent.

“For us it’s about that final performance so we can finish the job off and have a bit of credibility going into the World Cup,” Hull said.

“We’re not content with how we played against Fiji and that’s not good enough to play against a World Cup team, how we played on Friday night.”

Although there is still plenty riding on Saturday’s game – the result decides which pool each team falls into – Hull will no doubt have one eye on next year.

“I think over the next nine months it’s about accuracy, dealing with pressure and continuing to improve in terms of our strength and conditioning,” she said.

“The biggest thing is to keep improving, that’s the philosophy of the team is to improve every time we play.”

The winner of Saturday’s clash will join hosts Ireland, currently ranked fifth, France (fourth) and Australia (sixth) in pool C.

The runner-up slots in to pool A with top-ranked New Zealand, Canada (third) and Wales (10th).

“They are a very disciplined, organised Japan team so we have got to really bring our game to get the result,” Hull said.

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“They’re accurate, they’re fast, they’re good under pressure and they’re skilful. What they do very well is each position they do their jobs very well.”

Hull says a big focus against Japan will be her side’s attack after sustained periods in last week’s Fiji match where they were unable to penetrate.

“Our attack wasn’t very good, we were attacking for 28 minutes [against Fiji] but there was a lot of mistakes with our attack, it wasn’t as clinical as what I wanted so that will be a big focus for us,” she said.

“We are not really focusing on them [Japan], it is about us and this is the best time to do it.”

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That being said, Hull did sense a weakness in Japan earlier this week.

“I think that Japan looked vulnerable when Fiji started to move the ball around,” she said.