THE Australian Rugby Union (ARU) have shown interest in becoming involved in the development of the game in China and have made preliminary contact with authorities both in Hong Kong and on the mainland. It is known that the ARU, one of the major Unions in the world, are very keen to include China in their long-term strategic plan of helping under-developed rugby nations. 'We have had very preliminary contact with people in Hong Kong and in China and there is certainly a wish for us to see the game encouraged in China,' said Andy Conway, ARU rugby operations manager. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union - who admitted that interest had been shown by the Australians of moving into China - reacted cautiously to the news. 'We are the only people so far to have done anything about developing the game in China. While we would welcome help, we don't want people just rushing in. Everything will have to be carefully monitored,' said Dave Roberts, chief executive of the local Union. Conway told the South China Morning Post yesterday that China was a place the rugby world must address seriously. 'Internationally, we are looking at the development of the game regionally and China must be recognised for its importance. It is too early to say what form of support we can give China for everything is still at a very preliminary stage.' Hong Kong, who have pioneered rugby's push into China - which is widely regarded as the game's final frontier - recently requested the International Rugby Board (IRB) for funds to carry on their groundbreaking work. This request was, however, turned down, much to the dismay of local rugby authorities. The IRB's refusal was seen as an indication that the world governing body was more interested in developing the game in the Eastern European countries and not in Asia. The Australians, however, realise the potential that exists in promoting the game in China - especially for their business interests. 'There has been a lot of contact made in China, by private individuals connected with the Australian China Chamber of Commerce. It is a bit premature at the moment to say how we would help, but it could be in the form of technical assistance by us sending coaches to China or in turn getting them to come down here,' said Conway. Stuart Leckie, the HKRFU chairman, also took on a cautionary note when asked about the ARU's potential involvement. 'I'm not at all surprised considering that China is such a huge market in terms of business,' Leckie said. 'There will be lots of people in the future who will offer assistance. 'But we don't want half-a-dozen Unions jumping on the bandwagon. We will welcome any sort of support, but I hope it will come through us and that the Hong Kong Union co-ordinates everything.' A three member HKRFU appeals committee comprising secretary of the Union Peter Else, director players' liaison Iain Valentine and director of development Peter Duncan, adjourned their hearing into the Anthony Desir case yesterday until further notice. 'We are seeking clarification from the disciplinary committee on certain matters and have deferred the appeals,' said Else last night. Desir was banned for one year by the Union's disciplinary committee for punching Nick Fox during the HK Football Club's Carlsberg 10s in March.