D'Acre leads sevens side for Singapore
Nigel D'Acre will take over the reins of captaincy from Alex Gibbs as Hong Kong continue to chart a course towards the Doha Asian Games in December by taking part in this weekend's Singapore Sevens.
Gibbs will be missing in action because he will be getting married in Australia. His place in the squad will be filled by youngster Rowan Varty, who was unfortunate to miss out on the Hong Kong Sevens last week.
'We knew that Alex would be getting married this weekend and that we would miss him. He is the only change to the side that played last week,' Hong Kong sevens coach Rodney McIntosh said yesterday.
With the Singapore Sevens being a 16-team event as opposed to the 24-team format in Hong Kong, D'Acre and his team can expect to be up against it right from the outset. There will be no room to hide, not that Hong Kong are looking for this option as they want the hottest fire to test the mettle of this young squad in the run-up to the Asian Games.
Hong Kong are grouped in pool C alongside Argentina, South Africa and Scotland - all of whom made it to the cup competition last Sunday. While beating any of them will be asking too much, these games will offer another chance for the SAR to test their defensive system which will be crucial towards any medal success in Doha.
'It will be tough from the word go. But our goal has always been to expose these guys at this level to a high level of rugby. Singapore will give us one more chance to give some serious game time to the youngsters,' said McIntosh. The Hong Kong squad leave tonight.
Last Sunday, Hong Kong were beaten 26-14 by China in the Bowl semi-finals. China went on to blank Taiwan 47-0 in the final. Earlier, they had beaten Singapore 33-0 and in the pool competition scored a superb 35-17 victory over the United States. McIntosh is hoping that the team which comprised six Hong Kong Sevens debutants will continue to make progress.
'Our defence was very effective most of the time. And against Singapore, most of the Chinese players got their name on the scoresheet which is good for their confidence. This squad is close knit and they are gaining in confidence which are all good signs for the future.'
Eight of this team are eligible to play in the Asian Games and another good outing this weekend will do Hong Kong a world of good as they prepare to take on regional giants Japan and South Korea in the race for a medal this December.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong champions England will be hoping to close the gap further on leaders Fiji in the IRB Sevens title race. England, who beat Fiji 26-24 in the final, trail by six points. The Singapore Sevens is the sixth in the eight-leg series.
HONG KONG SQUAD: Nigel D'Acre (captain), Rowan Varty, Ricky Cheuk Ming-yin, Mark Wright, Tsang Hing-hung, Kwok Ka-chun, Jeff Wong, Kenzo Pannell, Andy Yuen Kin-ho, Paul Morehu, Justin Gregory, Andrew Chambers.