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Women's Rugby World Cup 2017

Hooker Karen So armed with the inside word on Canada as Hong Kong’s World Cup debut edges closer

The forward lived in the country for 18 years and crossed paths with some of the players her side have to combat this week

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 August, 2017, 11:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 August, 2017, 10:55pm

Hong Kong will be looking for all the assistance they can get when they kick off their Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign against Canada early on Thursday morning (Hong Kong time) and they may just have an edge in hooker Karen So Hoi-ting.

So spent 18 years living in the country before returning to Hong Kong to study and she has some idea of what to expect from the third-ranked Canadians.

“Some of the girls I actually played against in provincial rugby and at uni, so some of them I know of,” 27-year-old So said.

“I’ve watched them and when playing against these players you see the aggressiveness and how big they are. It’s going to be a tricky match.”

With her dad based in Canada and her brother studying there, So still has strong ties to the country, but doesn’t expect this to be an issue come kick-off.

“It will be great to hear the national anthem, but during the match Canada is not my home country and they are the opposition,” she said.

“We still have our childhood home there and I try to get back once a year, a lot of my friends are still there.”

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Despite her best efforts, So didn’t make it past provincial rugby in Canada before moving back to Hong Kong aged 22.

“It’s quite exciting, I always dreamt about playing for Canada but never made it to that level back there,” So said.

“When I came to Hong Kong, I never imagined playing for an international team after failing in Canada and I was lucky that once I got back some of the coaches came to watch the club games and they scouted me.

“Once they gave me that opportunity there was no looking back, it was always gunning for more and wanting more. Now that we have a chance to go and play in a World Cup, it is just amazing.”

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When she’s not slogging it out on the training track with her fellow forwards, So is often spotted handing out medical advice to her teammates, having just finished her medical degree at the University of Hong Kong.

“The girls come and ask me questions all the time, whether regarding sports medicine or just any other medicine,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to help them out.”

In the middle of her houseman year where she gets to try her hand at a number of different specialities, So is keen on a career in either surgery or orthopaedics and is confident her sporting experience will hold her in good stead.

“I would have lots of clients,” she jokes. “I have played a lot of sport so I will understand when regular patients want to go back to the game a lot earlier than what we would traditionally allow.

“It’s understanding how they want to rehab and when they want to get back to playing, I think that part I can help them.”