Hong Kong handed tough draw in Fiji
By ALVIN SALLAY
There will be plenty of sun, but not much fun for Hong Kong on their debut at the Fiji Sevens after they were drawn with Australia, Tonga and the Cook Islands for the March 15-16 tournament. The draw which took place in Suva on Wednesday saw the territory handed a tough task facing two top exponents of sevens rugby in Australia and Tonga.
Taking part for the first time in the Fiji Sevens the territory have also been handed a dress rehearsal for the Hong Kong Sevens - coming up against Tonga. Tonga are drawn in Hong Kong's pool at the Hong Kong Sevens a fortnight later.
The territory will be hoping to use this early opportunity to have a good look at the Tongans who they have beaten only once before in sevens rugby - in the 1992 Plate final, winning 12-8.
According to Fiji Rugby Union officials, Tonga will send a full-strength side for the Fiji Sevens, most probably the same one which will play in Hong Kong.
Tongan rugby is presently coming to terms with the loss of many of their key players to rugby league. They will use the Fiji Sevens to try out combinations and test out their new-look team.
The Fiji experience will be useful for Hong Kong, who have set their eyes on reaching the Cup competition at the Hong Kong Sevens this year.
To do that they have to beat Tonga - and Wednesday's draw in Suva has given them an opportunity to test the waters and see what their chances will be like.
The Fiji Sevens is widely regarded as a tough test for players. Only 16 teams participate and they are mainly drawn from the Pacific Islands with three coming from that country which revels in sevens - Fiji.
The organisers had decided to invite New Zealand Fijian and Australian Fijian teams as the country's selectors want to have a look at a couple of players who they feel might come into the equation for the Hong Kong Sevens.
According to the Fiji Times 'overseas' players under consideration include Counties (New Zealand) forward Waisake Masirewa, Gordon Club (Australia) flanker Eparama Tuvumivono and King Country (New Zealand) centre Filipe Rayasi.
The Fiji representative side will be spearheaded by Waisale Serevi. Fiji, who are drawn with Canada, Japan and Papua New Guinea, are favourites to win the tournament.
Fiji Sevens draw
Pool A: Fiji, Canada, Japan, Papua New Guinea
Pool B: Australia, Tonga, Hong Kong, Cook Islands
Pool C: Western Samoa, New Zealand Fijians, USA, Solomon Islands
Pool D: New Zealand, Australian Fijians, Taiwan, Uruguay