GARY Cross was handed a Sevens lifeline yesterday after an injury cloud had raised doubts on his involvement at the showpiece Hong Kong event next month. Veteran sevens campaigner Cross injured the adductor muscle on the left side of his groin and was able to participate only briefly at the weekend's Foster's National Sevens which doubled up as a trial for the Fiji and Hong Kong Sevens tournaments. Having played only one game on Saturday for Police, and that, too, briefly, Cross was pessimistic yesterday of his hopes of being named in the training squad for both tournaments. But national coach George Simpkin decided late yesterday to name a big squad of 18 players (the original idea was to pick 16), accommodating Cross and other injured players. 'They will have time to get over their injuries,' said Simpkin. 'I will be naming my final 10 players in early March.' The respite will be welcome for Cross, one of the most experienced sevens players in Hong Kong - having played in 33 sevens tournament. Early yesterday, he was doubtful of making it into Simpkin's plans. 'I don't think I will stand a chance with my injury. I think I can kiss goodbye to my hopes of playing in the Hong Kong Sevens this year. I will now have to look forward to the Sevens World Cup next year,' said a downbeat Cross. But all that has changed now, with Simpkin also taking into account the injuries picked up by last year's Hong Kong Sevens captain Rodney McIntosh and Mark Solomon last week against the South Koreans. Cross had virtually written off his chances after strange circumstances led to him straining the adductor muscle in his left leg. 'Last week, I was woken up in my sleep by a noise and found an illegal immigrant in my flat. I got up, stark naked and chased him in the dark. I must have stumbled on something, because the next thing I knew I had a sharp pain in my leg,' related Cross yesterday. 'When the police turned up they found this naked gweilo shouting in pain. I must have been a sight. The thief escaped with my training and coaching sheets,' said Cross. The talented and skilful Cross gave up playing as hooker in 15-a-side rugby after seriously injuring his back. But he has made a comeback and was determined to play in the Hong Kong Sevens this year. Last year, after a three-year-break, he played his way into the territory squad for the Taiwan Sevens. He ended the tournament in a blaze of glory, almost single-handedly winning the Plate final against USA. Simpkin is likely to need the ball-winning experience of Cross, especially now that Will Wild has left Hong Kong to continue his studies in Australia. Another forward, John Dingley is unavailable, having returned to South Africa for three weeks. Apart from the seasoned Stuart Krohn, Hong Kong will have no specialist forwards with previous sevens experience. Valley's McIntosh and Jeff Piper, who filled in the role of forwards last year, are backs by trade - although Simpkin is likely to pick them again as forwards. As expected, Valley players make up a large number of the squad which had few surprises apart from the presence of live-wire Club scrum-half Martin Robertson who played his way in yesterday. Robertson, who has been ignored for the national squad, was called up by Simpkin, who was impressed with the little Scotsman's showing in the First Division final yesterday, which Valley won 21-17. DeA teenager Chan Fuk-ping also won a berth, becoming the first Chinese player to make it into a Hong Kong Sevens squad. The 18-strong squad will start playing trial games soon after the Lunar New Year. Hong Kong Sevens squad Rodney McIntosh, Stuart Krohn, Jeff Piper, Vaughan Going, Isi Tu'ivai, Mark Solomon, Robin Bredbury, Ashley Billington (all Valley), Gary Cross, Stephen Kidd (Police), Martin Robertson, Rob Santos, David Wigley, Chris Leonard (all Club), Ben Kefford, Warren Warner (Aberdeen), Chan Fuk-ping (DeA), Moape Ravuvu (Kowloon).