A mightily relieved Hong Kong Rugby Football Union was able to confirm that the SAR XV's squad would after all have a couple of fixtures before the Christmas break with Taiwan stepping into the breach left by the pull-out of Sri Lanka. Hong Kong's buildup to next year's 2003 World Cup qualifying campaign was disrupted when Sri Lanka said they would not be able to stick to their commitment of making a brief two-game tour in a fortnight's time. But thankfully neighbours Taiwan were more than willing to accept the last-minute invitation issued by the HKRFU and will arrive to play two games - against a President's XV on December 16 and Hong Kong on December 18. 'It would have been foolhardy not to have had a game before Christmas. We have been training since September and we needed opposition to see where we are,' said coach Terry Hart. 'These games are important as they will be the culmination of this part of our season's work.' Not only will the Taiwan fixtures offer Hart the chance to see if theory can be translated into practice, but it will also offer new head coach Chris Roden the first opportunity to see Hong Kong in action against opponents who are likely to figure in the second part of the Asian zone qualifying round. Hong Kong are drawn in Pool B with Thailand and the Arabian Gulf in the preliminary round. If Hong Kong win they will then move into the next stage where they will come up against the group winners of Pool A (Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia) and Pool C (Sri Lanka, China and Kazakhstan). The winners of this second-round group will meet Asian powerhouses Japan and South Korea in a home-and-away competition to decided the one automatic World Cup berth given to Asia by the International Rugby Board. The first two rounds are round robin. Yesterday, Roden was in Shenzhen. Not on a shopping trip, but to offer his advice to China Agricultural University. But he will be back to helm the Hong Kong A squad at this weekend's seven-a-side King's Cup in Chiang Mai, Thailand. On a nine-month contract with the Union, Roden, who arrived last month, is trying to accelerate the process of getting to know the Hong Kong players. Already Roden and his brains trust have named a 29-strong squad for the Taiwan fixtures. Captained by Paul Dingley, with Chris Gordon as his deputy, it comprises most of the usual suspects with a couple of welcome new faces, amongst them DeA backs Andrew Chambers and Terence Ng Kwok-leung and Kowloon front-rowers Stephen Daniels and Mark Walters. Four player - Warren Warner, Carl Murray, Rodney McIntosh and Brent Edwards - were unavailable through injury for the Taiwan games. 'We will review them once they are fit,' said Hart. Hong Kong want to play an expansive game while not committing all the forwards at the breakdown. 'We are trying to start setting up a framework of a game we want to play. We are looking for players with attitude and discipline. This is a key. The players have to be more disciplined than what they have been showing at club level,' Hart said. In the past, poor discipline has sometimes been Hong Kong's achilles heel. Hart hopes to tighten things up and views the fixtures as an ideal exercise to see how far Hong Kong have come and what more needs to be done. HKSAR XV's squad Forwards: Terence Brink, Leung Chi-ming, Stephen Daniels, Jack Wilson, Chris Brooke, Jarrad Gallagher, Kris Marin, Mark Walters, Mike Kerr, Duncan Robertson, Mark Loynd, James Wood, Paul Dingley (capt), Adam Horler, Wes Packer. Backs: Rory Dickson, Roman Law Lok-man, Robin Bredbury, Dean McLachlin, Mark Solomon, Owain Morrison, Chris Gordon (vice-captain), Lee Cheuk-yin, Rob Naylor, Chan Fuk-ping, Jason Going, Terence Ng Kwok-leung, Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin, Andrew Chambers.