Clash with all-conquering Fiji awaits, but Singapore Sevens a ‘hindrance’ for Hong Kong

Paul John’s men also face Russia and Canada in a tournament the HKRU’s Dai Rees says leads to nothing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 7:29pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 April, 2017, 10:41pm

Hong Kong will be out to enjoy a tournament the HKRU’s Dai Rees says is a hindrance when they take on Fiji at the Singapore Sevens this weekend.

Hong Kong will be looking to put the disappointment of a quarter-final exit in the weekend’s HSBC World Sevens Series qualifier behind them when they face Fiji, Canada and Russia in pool A.

But while Rees, the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s general manager of rugby performance, admitted it will be a great experience for the team, he feels the timing means there is little to gain.

“It’s an enjoyment tournament on the weekend and the boys get to play in a fantastic stadium and experience the World Series, but it’s no lead into anything,” Rees said.

“In actual fact, it’s more hindrance to our preparation for the ARC [Asia Rugby Championship] and the 15-a-side game for Leigh Jones.

“Teams like Chile, Germany, Uganda, they have all had World Series tournaments this season pre-qualifier.

“We just don’t seem to be able to get an invite to Dubai or one of the significant tournaments held pre-qualifier, we always seem to be given the Singapore leg which to be honest is no use to us in terms of preparation.”

The Asia Rugby Championship starts for Hong Kong in early May, leaving little time for the squad to prepare as a whole.

On the positive side, they will get the chance to face off against former coach Gareth Baber and a Fiji outfit that reigned supreme at the Hong Kong Sevens.

According to Rees, brushing aside the disappointment of falling short in the qualifier will not be an issue.

“I don’t think the backup is going to be the difficulty,” he said. “Almost we can go to Singapore with no pressure on us.

“There isn’t the pressure of the qualifier on us, we want to perform but it’s a different competition completely.”

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Hong Kong’s limited depth will be tested, with Ben Rimene unlikely to play due to concussion and Mark Wright battling a shoulder injury.

“We’ve got a couple of injuries and we will have to bring a couple of players in,” Rees said.

“If we lose a few players, like the [currently injured] McQueen boys [Alex and Tom], we are really struggling. Our player numbers at youth and senior level are tiny. It will be a tough weekend.

Russia presents Hong Kong’s best chance of snatching a victory, while Canada were impressive on the weekend, making it through to the Cup quarter-finals before falling 29-12 to Fiji.

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“It’s nice to see Russia in there, who were at our level a few years ago but they have kicked on and stayed on the World Series,” Rees said.

“They are big physical specimens and they have earned their right to stay on the circuit.”