Wendell Sailor sets course for HKFC Tens as Classic Wallabies roll out stars
World Cup stalwarts Morgan Turinui, Stephen Hoiles and Adam Freier set to light up Hong Kong Football Club
Imposing winger Wendell Sailor and 33-year-old scrum half Luke Burgess headline a host of big names preparing to suit up for the Classic Wallabies team at next week’s HKFC Tens.
Morgan Turinui – like Sailor, part of the Australia squad that lost to England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final – and 2007 World Cup duo Stephen Hoiles and Adam Freier are also among the stars in the side coached by former Wallaby forward Justin Harrison.
An awesome sight in full flow, Sailor won 37 caps for the Wallabies despite playing rugby league for most of his career, and was one of the top finishers in both codes.
After eight seasons with Brisbane Broncos, the big-framed winger switched to union in 2001 and played Super Rugby for the Reds and then the Waratahs.
The crowd favourite finished his competitive career in 2010 after returning to league for two seasons at St George Illawarra Dragons.
“We’re all excited about playing in the GFI HKFC 10s in Hong Kong for the first time,” Sailor said.
“It’s a special feeling getting together with old Wallabies teammates and we always have a good time.
“We’ve already seen our opponents in the pool stage. I know Tradition YCAC have been runners-up twice and we also face the French team, Pyrenees, and they have Damien Traille as captain. That should be a fun match.”
Turinui, 35, also played for the Waratahs and the Reds, and the current Melbourne Rebels assistant coach even turned out for his side at this year’s Brisbane Global Tens.
Freier, 36, played hooker at the Rebels, the Waratahs and the Brumbies, while Hoiles, 35, starred for the Waratahs and the Brumbies, with both still playing club rugby for Randwick.
Burgess, who helped Australia finish third at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, only recently called time on a career that included stints in Australia, France and Italy.
The squad will be boosted by Australia Sevens players not selected for the Hong Kong Sevens, with the provisional Sevens contingent including teenager Dylan Pietsch, who played in this year’s Sydney Sevens, fellow back-rower Tom Connor and centre Ben O’Donnell.
Player of the tournament at last November’s National Sevens Championship in Adelaide, New Zealand-born O’Donnell is the cousin of Super Rugby players Kylem and Declan O’Donnell, who both played for New Zealand Sevens.
The only debutants in the 16-team field, Classic Wallabies start in pool D against two-time runners-up Tradition YCAC, Kir Club Pyrenees and GoCloudWifi East Africans.
Pool A comprises defending champions Penguin International, Projecx Waterboys of Scotland, Irish Vikings and Devil’s Advocate Silver Dragons from Shanghai, while pool B features Mourant Ozannes Samurai International, Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, UBB Gavekal and China’s CRFA Gladiators.
Pool C is made up of Hogan Lovells Asia Pacific Dragons, champions in 2012, 2014 and 2015, A-Trade Overseas Old Boys, Australian side King’s College at UQ and hosts Natixis HKFC.