With their midfield boosted by the return of Carl Murray and Warren Warner, Hong Kong will take on Singapore in a one-off international at Happy Valley this evening. It is basically a 'test-the-waters' exercise for the new coaching team of Chris Roden (head coach) and Terry Hart (national 15s coach) as the SAR's countdown to the 2003 Rugby World Cup qualifying competition gets under way in earnest. Roden and Hart need not worry about putting their toes gingerly into a Singapore Sling. For while they have come on in leaps and bounds, Singapore are hardly opposition that warrant sleepless nights in Hong Kong. The visitors will snap at Hong Kong's heels, but on past form Paul Dingley's men should be able to brush the terrier-like approach aside with ease. The last two times the teams met - in the Triangular Series in 1999 and 2001 - Hong Kong, coached by Phil Campbell, won 25-5 and 26-8 respectively. When compared to the heady days under George Simpkin - back in 1994 Hong Kong posted the world record score of 164-13 at the Asian Championships - these two results can be seen as a shot in the arm for Singapore. The Lion state has progressed. But the more pressing issue is whether Hong Kong's standards have slipped. Undoubtedly there has been some drop over the years. With the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) now bravely pushing for more 'locals' in the national squad, this was bound to happen. Trying to juggle that policy with trying to stay competitive led to less than satisfactory results during the tenure of Campbell. Now the HKRFU has hired its first full-time coach, in New Zealander Roden, and replaced Campbell with Hart. The hope is that their ideas will transform the SAR's fortunes in this important year as Hong Kong bid to join Asian giants Japan and South Korea in the final qualifying round. 'There is still a long way to go. We are still trying out different combinations and places are still up for grabs. We are looking for commitment and application from the players,' Hart said yesterday. The return of flyhalf Murray and centre Warner will boost Hong Kong. Both players were missing through injury in Hong Kong's 23-11 win over Taiwan last December, the first time the new brains' trust was in charge. Their presence will boost the midfield, especially in the key area of defence. Skipper Dingley welcomed the return of the dynamic duo. 'They have lots of experience between them. Warren is solid in midfield and will bolster it, while Carl can create space out of nothing,' he said. Murray's vision and snap decision-making has helped Hong Kong and club Valley on countless occasions. The midfield general broke his nose in six places last October in Beijing during the ADICS competition and has played only one full game since returning from injury - a league game against Aberdeen last month. Both Warner and Murray travelled with Roden to Darwin, a fortnight ago, but that was for a sevens event. 'It has been quite a difficult period with both sevens and 15s going on. It has been disruptive,' Hart said. Hopefully, not too disruptive that Hong Kong will struggle to beat Singapore. TEAM Hong Kong: 1-Duncan Robertson, 2-Mike Kerr, 3-Mark Loynd, 4-James Wood, 5-Adam Horler, 6-Jarrad Gallagher, 7-Brent Edwards, 8-Paul Dingley (captain), 9-Rory Dickson, 10-Carl Murray, 11-Mark Solomon, 12-Chan Fuk-ping, 13-Warren Warner, 14-Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin, 15-Chris Gordon. Reserves: 16-Steve Daniel, 17-Bryce Dailly, 18-Jack Wilson, 19-Kelvin Yip Kwok-ho, 20-Lee Cheuk-yin, 21-Rob Naylor, 22-Andrew Chambers.