Another piece of Hong Kong rugby's jigsaw puzzle fell into place last week when it was announced that the Union would soon set up an under-23 squad [Sports Post, August 14]. In the national representative order of play, the under-23's fall in-between the under-19s and the development team or Hong Kong 'A' side, and alongside the Hong Kong Dragons. With the national team at the top of the heap, Hong Kong will have five representative sides. It is good to have a ladder of ascension. In other countries, such tools help unions to identify talent at a young age and also gives the player a goal to aim for, apart from the opportunity of getting specialised training. This wisdom is the goal under-23 coach Ian Brownlee hopes to impart to players - something which he says has been lacking in the past few seasons with many young players missing out as they have not been good enough for the development side. The development side was put in place with the sole idea that they would be the vehicle to bring on Chinese players gradually into the main team. But it was disappointing to note that the development squad which went on tour at the tail end of last season to Western Australia did not have one Chinese player in the team. The reason given at the time was that the Chinese players who were good enough to be in the development squad had just returned from their traditional Dragons tour of Malaysia and Singapore - and thus could not get time off work again. It may have been so. But the Union must be held responsible for the lack of foresight and planning on this occasion. It was not as if the development tour was a sudden occurrence. They should have selected the more promising Chinese players for the development team. If the charter of the Union is to bring along Chinese players, then they should be given special treatment - even at the cost of better expatriate players. This is bound to strike a discordant note amongst some. But in the best interests of Hong Kong rugby, this is the way to go. One cannot hide the fact that in the long run, for Hong Kong rugby to survive, the Chinese rugby player must be developed to a level where he is at least competitive at an Asian level. The 'expat' rugby player is an unknown quantity. No one knows how long the 'expat' will stay on in the territory. A good example has been the departure of Jeff Piper and the impending departure of Mike Rarere from the senior national team. Both players have played a role in the national set-up last season, but Hong Kong being the much-touted transient place, they will follow where most others of their ilk have gone - away from Hong Kong. With Hong Kong rugby, and every other sphere of life for that matter, soon reaching a watershed next June, how many more top players will follow suit? A sense of urgency should be instilled among administrators to get it right with the under-23s from the very outset. It is important that the under-23s are primarily a team for the Chinese. The Union's development programme, started some eight years ago, is bearing fruit in some quarters. The under-19 squad have their fair share of Chinese players. And as these players also fall into the under-23 age bracket, it is they who will fly the banner in the future. Let the senior sides - for the time being - be the home for the 'expats'. Let them represent Hong Kong rugby at the highest level possible. But at the younger level, the Chinese must hold sway. Never mind the argument that a representative team must be competitive and only be picked on merit. The Union must have a policy where Chinese players be given all the encouragement. They hold the key. After all, one day the Pipers and the Rareres will be gone. Only the Wongs and the Chans will stay behind.