Pain boost to Hongkong's hopes in World Sevens
HONGKONG'S World Sevens hopes have been boosted by skipper Craig Pain's return to full-scale training for the first time since suffering a thigh injury at last month's Hongkong Sevens.
The 10-man Hongkong side have completed two training sessions since arriving in Edinburgh on Sunday but are expected to ease up on the intensity as the World Cup Sevens, which start on Friday at Murrayfield, draw closer.
Pain was limited to light run-outs last week as the rest of the squad were given a rigorous work-out by coach George Simpkin.
''I'm doing everything now,'' said Pain yesterday from Edinburgh. ''There is still a bit of swelling but it is all right.
''We have already had two sessions. Both have been hard work-outs but after the next one, we are likely to taper off.'' Hongkong train this afternoon at the Double Hedges ground on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The team then get a chance to relax before the tournament with a round of golf on Thursday.
Pain said there are no injury problems but admitted the players are struggling to get accustomed to the colder conditions.
''It's about seven degrees Celsius and windy,'' he said. ''We are wearing gloves and woolly hats.
Hongkong are sharing their hotel with 11 other teams, including one of the tournament favourites Fiji, who Pain said seemed particularly affected by the cold.
The territory face England, Hongkong Sevens champions Western Samoa, Canada, Namibia and Spain in Pool D of the preliminary rounds.
The top two countries, after a round-robin, advance to the main competition, the Melrose Cup, while the third and fourth teams enter the plate event. The bottom two teams are eliminated.
Hongkong lost to Namibia twice and beat Spain when they qualified for the World Cup Sevens in Sicily.
But the side have undergone many changes since then. They performed poorly at the Hongkong Sevens, reaching only the semi-finals of the bottom-tier Bowl competition.
Fiji, whose three-year reign at the Hongkong Sevens was ended by the Samoans last month, take on South Africa, Wales, Romania, Japan and Latvia in Pool A.
New Zealand, once the kings of sevens, will have tough matches against France and Ireland in Pool B, which also includes South Korea, United States and the Netherlands.
Australia, who emerged as one of the favourites after reaching the semi-finals in Hongkong, face host country Scotland, Argentina, Italy, Tonga and Taiwan in Pool C.
From tomorrow Sports Post's Nazvi Careem will be in Edinburgh to bring you exclusive coverage of Hongkong's build-up to and progress in the inaugural Sevens World Cup, plus all the other big stories from Murrayfield.