Former Black Fern Anna Richards to test Hong Kong in her old stomping ground of New Zealand
The nine-day tour includes training matches against the likes of Auckland and Counties Manukau as well as a one-day tournament featuring the Cook Islands
Anna Richards will be killing two birds with one stone when she takes the Hong Kong women’s sevens side to New Zealand later this week.
Not only will her charges be kicking off their preparation for the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens in the best possible fashion, but she’ll also be catching up with a number of old teammates.
“It’s kind of funny, the Counties side, the Auckland side and the Bay of Plenty side that we are going to be training or playing against, all three are coached by girls I played in the Black Ferns with or I played sevens with,” Richards said.
“It was purely those contacts that made it possible to organise the whole trip.”
The team leaves on Sunday for the nine-day camp, which will include training matches against quality provincial sides Counties Manukau and Auckland.
Hong Kong will also take on a New Zealand development side, the Cook Islands and provincial side Bay of Plenty in a one-day tournament that promises to provide a stern test.
“It’s going to be full on,” Richards said of the trip.
“It is good to be coming up against Cook Islands, they are a bigger side and a good challenge. I think the whole training camp is going to be a good challenge for the girls.
The Cook Islands are no stranger to Richards, with her side playing them twice in last year’s Olympic repechage tournament, drawing one game and losing the other.
There will also be further training games against the New Zealand development players during the launch of what will be a busier build-up to the sevens than in previous years.
“I think it’s really important, we didn’t have a lot of sevens games last year, I think we only played in five tournaments,” Richards said. “It’s really hard to train full-time for a whole year just for that.”
The team will also travel to the Borneo sevens in March and Richards is hopeful of organising a camp against a Chinese provincial side the week before Hong Kong.
“We would really have liked to have played in Fiji where the guys played [in January], but we had no lead-in pre-Christmas because they were all playing 15s [in the World Cup qualifiers],” Richards said.
“We would have had maybe four, five days with them before going to Fiji and we didn’t think it was a good spend of money. We thought that the New Zealand camp would work better.”
Hong Kong were knocked out at the semi-final stage at their home tournament in 2016.