Young guns Varty, Cheuk earn stripes
Former KGV students make the final cut as Hong Kong name their 12-man squad
University students Rowan Varty and Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin will both play in the World Cup next week after surviving the final cut and making it through to the 12-strong Hong Kong squad yesterday.
In a huge shot in the arm for ESF schools rugby - both are former students of KGV - wingers Varty and Cheuk were pencilled in to play in the March 18-20 showpiece at the Hong Kong Stadium.
'We are absolutely delighted that these two young players will be playing in the World Cup,' said Hong Kong head coach Ivan Torpey. 'Both of them are studying overseas and it has been a big challenge for them to win a place in the squad. They have managed their lives exceedingly well and it is a credit to them that they are in the World Cup.'
While it will be Varty's debut for the senior squad at sevens, Cheuk has figured before and appeared at the Hong Kong Sevens. He also played at the previous World Cup Sevens in Argentina in 2001 when he scored a try against Chile and created a bit of history by becoming the first Hong Kong Chinese player to do so.
Both youngsters are studying in universities in England, but returned home for training as well as the regular trips overseas during the build-up period.
'They have both put in a lot of time and effort to win their berths in the team. They have done the training required from their coaches and kept apace with the rest. I'm pleased for them,' said Allan Payne, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union executive director. The 22-year-old Cheuk will also carry the flag for local development with long-standing champion Chan Fuk-ping missing out. Chan's World Cup hopes were dashed after he was banned for kicking a player in a first division match earlier this season.
Two other players who will be making their debut are HKCC/Aberdeen fullback Paul Morehu and Asahi Valley flanker Paul Gaffney. The two unlucky players who failed to make the cut are Football Club hooker Tom Cameron and DeA Tigers back Alex Zenovic.
Also making a comeback after missing out last year is Warren Warner. The Football Club centre is one of three players who competed at the 2001 World Cup, the others being Cheuk and Paul Dingley.
Completing the squad are last year's representatives Andrew Chambers, Andrew Wong Kee, Alex Gibbs and Kris Marin, while Rob Naylor and Nigel D'Acre return to the sevens fold. D'Acre was cleared by the IRB to represent Hong Kong during last year's 15-a-side Asian Rugby Football Tournament after having been away from Hong Kong for a certain length of time.
The final 12 was decided yesterday after the squad had returned from a weekend trip to Taipei where they played a series of games against the Taiwan national team and a couple of university sides.
Hong Kong squad
Andrew Chambers, Nigel D'Acre, Paul Gaffney, Paul Morehu, Rowan Varty, Andrew Wong Kee, Ricky Cheuk, Paul Dingley, Alex Gibbs, Rob Naylor, Warren Warner, Kris Marin.