Hong Kong focus on London after harsh reality check
Coach finds weaknesses but says his squad can improve as they chase core-team status
Hong Kong would have to grow a thick skin of composure if they want to challenge for a berth at the top table, said head coach Dai Rees after the hosts failed to win any of their three pool games.
In this Year of the Snake, growing a new epidermis of equanimity might not be such a hard thing, but captain Rowan Varty and his team only have six weeks before the all-important London Sevens and the hard lessons of the past two days will have to be imprinted in their minds.
"We must have more composure on the ball," urged Rees after losses to Canada and Spain yesterday. "The name of the game is composure and we don't have it right now. They have to learn to be cool under pressure."
It was a far better showing from Hong Kong than Friday night's 36-0 mauling by Fiji. Canada held on to win 14-12, while Spain won 28-14.
Yet, Hong Kong had their moments. In the opening game winger Tom McQueen turned in a spirited show, grabbing a brace of tries, his first putting Hong Kong in the lead and the second closing the gap to just two points. But mistakes cost them victory, including a poor throw into an attacking lineout metres from the Canadian try-line.
"But it was two performances we can be proud of. We said we would come back after our poor game against Fiji and we did," Rees said. "We showed we are capable of beating these teams and capable of playing with the bottom six core teams."
In London, Hong Kong will be in the company of three of these teams, plus the four others from today's pre-qualifying competition. Rees believes Hong Kong can handle the teams who come up from the pre-qualifiers, but feels more work needs to be done to get attuned to the teams who will have the experience of one season in the world series.
"We have talked about London and this is what it is all about because the other competition is a notch down. We came to play the Fijis, Canadas and Spains to prepare for London and today's performance has shown we will be ready," Rees said.
"This tournament has always been about Sunday and winning some silverware."
Hong Kong, who will meet Argentina in the Bowl today, are aiming to win the Shield competition - for those teams who lose in the first round of the Bowl.