HKRU Premiership 2016-17

After packing down together at Pontypool, new Hong Kong debutant Dan Barlow leans on old friend Alex Ng

The 30-year-old is eager for more caps and is looking forward to fronting up against Football Club in the Premiership this weekend

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 12:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 October, 2017, 10:49pm

They played together at Pontypool RFC in Wales and now recent Hong Kong debutant Dan Barlow is leaning on veteran forward Alex Ng Wai-shing as he settles into international rugby.

For prop Barlow, who earned his first two caps in Hong Kong’s tour of Kenya in August, representing his adopted home and playing in the front row alongside an old friend is as good as it gets.

“Alex coming to Pontypool and playing was a big experience for him and now it’s a role reversal,” Barlow said. “To come over here and play with him in his home territory, it’s quite exciting.”

A Hong Kong berth is the latest stop in a fascinating rugby journey for Welshman Barlow, who played semi-professionally in Wales and professionally in Spain for Getxo before joining the Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers.

On top of playing with Ng, who notched his 50th Hong Kong cap in Kenya, Barlow also ran out alongside fellow Tigers debutants Liam Gallaher and Sam Purvis.

“We all joined [Tigers] in the same year, so to have all three of us out there was quite cool,” Barlow said. “Sam was my housemate when I first arrived, so to get on the pitch with him was a great experience.”

A spot in the starting 15 is next on the list for the 30-year-old, who hopes to feature when Hong Kong welcome Russia, Kenya and Chile for November’s Cup of Nations.

“I have played three seasons here and met all the boys [that play for Hong Kong] and I wanted to join them really,” he said about his promotion to the national team.

“To get the invitation to Kenya was pretty impressive and to get the two caps was pretty awesome.

“I was on the bench for the two games so ideally I’d like to try to get a start, that’s my target to try to prove myself.”

Barlow juggles rugby with his job as an architect – the reason he came to Hong Kong in the first place – and he will be an integral part of the Tigers’ side that tackles undefeated Natixis HKFC in the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership on Saturday.

Tigers defeated Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC 29-16 last weekend after falling narrowly to Societe Generale Valley in round one and Barlow senses his side are in for a good season after a lean run.

Chinese trailblazer Alex Ng puts his rugby skills to the test against Japan

“Being here for three years now, we deserve a good year and I think we have recruited well,” he said.

“The team is looking strong and I think we are starting to gel. [HKFC’s] forwards have been quite strong this season and I’m looking forward to a challenge up front. I’m sure we can take them.”

Tigers’ coach Sam Hocking is one person in particular who is benefiting from Barlow’s international exposure and is expecting another big game from him against Football Club.

“He probably learned one or two things while he was away in Kenya and he has been playing really well,” Hocking said.

Former Connacht prop Brett Wilkinson looking to impart knowledge gained from Irish rugby legends in HKCC role

Other matches see Bloomberg HK Scottish tackle Kowloon and Valley and the Cricketers lock horns.

In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, HKFC face Tai Po, Valley and CWB Phoenix do battle, City Sparkle take on Gai Wu and Tigers and Kowloon meet.