Robertson gets nod over injured Hood for London
Trainee pilot is named in final 12 with regular fly-half still carrying a shoulder injury
It was former British prime minister Harold Wilson who coined the famous phrase "a week is a long time in politics". It can be an eternity for a rugby player - just ask Jamie Hood who was told yesterday he would not be in control of Hong Kong's destiny at this weekend's London Sevens.
Flyhalf Hood failed to fully recover from a troubled shoulder and Keith Robertson got the nod as playmaker as Hong Kong go in search of one of three spots available in the eight-team qualifying tournament to decide core teams in next season's HSBC Sevens World Series.
"I am absolutely gutted," Hood said minutes after Hong Kong head coach Dai Rees announced his decision yesterday. "A couple more weeks and I think I would have been 100 per cent. But in the interests of the team, it is best I stand aside."
A week ago Robertson was undergoing simulator training at Adelaide in his bid to become a pilot. It has been an eternity for him too, transported from the controls of a plane to taking over control of the Hong Kong team.
"I got a call from Dai soon after Jamie was hurt in training. And after I got the green light from my employers the past week has flown by. I have not played competitively since the Tokyo Sevens last year, but I have stayed fit playing a lot of football and rugby with a local club, and I know I am ready to step in," said Robertson (pictured).
Hood stepped into Robertson's shoes when he began the 18-month pilot training course and the South Island School teacher played a huge role in punching Hong Kong's ticket to London, spearheading them to victory in the Asian Sevens Series.
In the process he was named player of the tournament twice, in Shanghai and Borneo.
"Jamie is a large part of the reason we are here and it was a tough decision to make. But he came up to me after our second training session and said his shoulder was still painful. He was very honest about it," said Rees.
Hood, who hurt his left shoulder in training over a fortnight ago, said: "I have had AC [cartilage] problems in my shoulder before, but this was probably the worst. It is a massive disappointment, but with the World Cup [in Moscow in June] coming up it is better that I recover fully rather than risk it."
Rees said if Robertson, one of Hong Kong's most talented players, had not been available, he would have included Hood.
"The other factor in this decision was watching Keith at training these past few days. It seemed like he had never been away. If Keith wasn't around we might have gone with an 80 per cent fit Jamie, but Keith being Keith, it was the obvious choice to include him," Rees said.
The other decision in pruning the 14-man squad to the required 12 saw forward Anthony Haynes passed fit, leaving Tsang Hing-hung on standby.
Rees said he had until start of play on Saturday to make any changes to the team.