Instead of playing in yesterday's HSBC Asian Five Nations game against Singapore, Hong Kong lock Ivan Zenovic could easily have been commentating on it. The 28-year-old has a day job as a consultant for an international recruitment firm, but after pursuing media studies and working for two years for CNN International, he dreams of being a TV sports broadcaster. As an associate producer specialising in business news at CNN's Quarry Bay offices, Zenovic did some voice-overs and screen tests, but the 'big break' has so far eluded him. 'Working with some of the biggest names in broadcasting spurred me on to becoming a broadcaster myself,' he said. 'But the opportunities in Hong Kong were more on the business side of things so I've put my ambition on hold for a while.' And it may not be simply a pipe dream for the Serbian-born, British-educated giant - he's 1.92 metres tall and 105kg - who arrived in Hong Kong as a nine-year-old without a word of English ('I couldn't even say hello') but now speaks with a cultured public school accent. His road to international rugby is a remarkable one and has its roots in the playgrounds of Belgrade where he and his elder brother Alex - a former Hong Kong international centre whose recent career has been dogged by injury - spent their early childhood years. Their father Ilija played football - he was a professional goalkeeper for former European Cup finalists Partisan Belgrade in the early 1970s. A serious eye injury forced his early retirement, but sports-mad Ilija encouraged his sons to embrace football and basketball, the two biggest sports in what was then a united Yugoslavia. The Zenovic family moved to Hong Kong in 1990 when Ilija took up a post in Asia with a trading firm dealing in textiles and electronics. His sons went to Sha Tin College where Ivan's rugby potential was spotted by his PE teacher as the then-12 year old played basketball on the school courts. 'It was because of my size, athleticism and handling ability which he thought would be good for rugby,' he said. 'But when I came to Hong Kong, I didn't have a clue what rugby was. I just thought it was American football.' Zenovic would go on to captain the Sha Tin College First XV and within two years he was representing Hong Kong at under-14 level. Then in 1999, as an 18-year-old, he made his senior debut for Hong Kong - against Taiwan. Playing as a flanker, he was the youngest player on the pitch that day by some distance, but showed that he belonged at the highest level. The Zenovics never intended staying in Hong Kong beyond Ilija's four-year contract. But with the wars associated with the break-up of the Republic of Yugoslavia, he and wife Mirjana made the decision to make Hong Kong the family's permanent home. And, then in 1999, they watched television reports in disbelief as their former hometown of Belgrade was bombed by Nato forces during the Kosovo war. 'I'll always remember because it was just after Alex and I had played in the Hong Kong Tens,' Zenovic said. 'One of the bombs landed very close to our house, destroying an oil plant.' When the younger Zenovic returned to Europe, it was to the safer surrounds of Southeast England where he pursued media studies at the University of East London. After a season at the nearby Barking club - 'where I got kicked more than I would have liked' - he found himself in the under-21 squad at the famous Harlequins club in southwest London where the first-team coach was Zinzan Brooke, the former All Black who was long-admired by Zenovic. After three years in the UK, Zenovic returned to Asia but, because of an serious Achilles injury, would have to wait until 2007 to add to the four international caps he'd already earned at senior level. When he ran onto the Football Club pitch against Singapore yesterday, it was his 15th appearance in Hong Kong colours spread over a decade. While he can play blindside flanker or number eight, Zenovic has made his mark as a key lineout jumper for his club, DeA Tigers, and country. Those hours after school spent in the playgrounds of Belgrade are clearly paying off. Zenovic is excited about what he believes is a bright new era under Welsh coach Dai Rees in the lead-up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and possible qualification via next year's HSBC Asian Five Nations. He hopes he'll be involved all the way. 'It's all part of a two-year plan for the national team and we're getting better all the time,' he said. 'Things have changed dramatically in Hong Kong rugby from me making my debut a decade ago to what it's like now in terms of professionalism and what's expected of players.' And if Hong Kong don't end up making it onto the sport's biggest stage, the photogenic Zenovic - who was once part of a magazine shoot for Calvin Klein underwear - has a Plan B. 'If I don't play in the World Cup, you might see me commentating on it one day,' he laughed.