FORMER Hong Kong flanker Will Wild is expected to return to the territory by the end of this year after completing his studies at Sydney University, Australia. If Wild returns, he will be welcome. Hong Kong rugby needs all the available top quality players around if they are to play in the proposed Pan Pacific tournament next year. It is felt that the territory will need a squad of 26 players - 14 forwards and 12 backs - to field a competitive team in this tournament which will be of a standard far higher than what we are used to. At present, Hong Kong look capable of fielding a side who will be able to hold their own - although they are unlikely to beat sides like Western Samoa, Canada, etc. But with the injury count mounting in the past couple of weeks, it is suddenly probable that we will be struggling to find quality players. Hong Kong hooker Andy Fields is out for five months with a knee needing extensive reconstruction. Flanker Rick Shuttleworth has also injured his knee, although he is expected to be back in action sooner. Injury being part and parcel of this close contact game, it is not unreasonable to think that the situation could arise where the number one choices are out of contention through injury. This has happened in the past to Hong Kong - most notably when full-back Justin Weston was injured before last year's Asian Rugby Football Tournament. Unlike other countries who have depth in players, Hong Kong's are spread wafer thin. We have around 20 good players, but below that the difference in quality is obvious. The important issue the Union will look at carefully before taking any decision to join the Pan-Pac (if it takes off), is that taking into account injuries, can we field a competitive side? National coach George Simpkin has gone on record as saying that 'Hong Kong won't disgrace themselves'. However, he admits that winning will be a hard target to achieve. But, as said before, if Hong Kong play in a competition where the standards are high, then the territory can only benefit. The high profile and publicity of such a tournament will also be good for Hong Kong's image. Hong Kong's hopes of remaining competitive will be boosted if the Pan-Pac organisers allow the territory to field players outside the IRB eligibility regulations which is currently three years. If Hong Kong are able to play the current crop of newcomers in the territory, Simpkin will have more flexibility and depth in players. No one knows what eligibility requirement will be used for the Pan-Pac. But as John Crean, editor of the HKRFU published Rugby Talk, pointed out: 'Hong Kong could be represented as an invitation side. They could call themselves the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union Select.' Simpkin's major worry, however, is that even if he is able to field the new players available, Hong Kong will still struggle to field a competitive front row. We are skating on thin ice where the front row is concerned. In hindsight, the move to play Neil Alton, a former lock forward, in the front row is proving invaluable. Alton now turns out regularly as a prop in club rugby. There is also conjecture that Aberdeen's Duane Davies will probably be asked to play in the front row. With players like Rick Santos, Allan Clarke, old warhorse Dave Lewis and a born-again Gary Cross around, Hong Kong have a capable front row. But a couple of injuries, like that to Fields (or do you remember Toby Bland?), and Hong Kong's pack will resemble Les Miserables. Meanwhile, it is good to hear that fly-half Robin Bredbury and scrum-half Stephen Kidd are back to playing in their normal roles in club rugby. Both players had been playing out of position. It is silly to expect them to play the season out of position and then slot back into their accustomed places for Hong Kong.