Under pressure? Hong Kong rugby coach Gareth Baber doesn’t think so as Japan add experience for second round of Asian sevens series
Hong Kong are looking to build on their victory at home three weeks ago with another strong showing in South Korea
Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber is expecting a sterner test from a Japan side that has added experience to their line-up for the second round of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in South Korea.
Hong Kong have drawn Japan along with home side South Korea and Taiwan in pool A and Baber knows he will not see a squad full of university students like Japan fielded in Hong Kong three weeks ago.
“They’re bringing in one of their more senior players, Jamie Henry, and I’m sure they will have worked hard on their game over the last few weeks,” Baber said.
“I’m concentrating very much on ourselves but I think the experience of Jamie Henry and a few others might cause us a few problems.”
Baber says victory in the opening round of the series has not created any added pressure on his side, although he admits another strong performance will ensure Hong Kong are very well positioned.
“On the form of Hong Kong and how well we did, we don’t feel any extra pressure, we just feel the pressure from within really to replicate that,” he said.
“If we can produce that on the weekend and put ourselves in a good position of a final or win the tournament then obviously we put ourselves in a good position for the whole of the series. The ambition is to be in the world series qualifier in Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong have made one change to their first-up side, bringing Mark Wright in for the injured James Cunningham.
Hong Kong overcame South Korea 28-14 in Hong Kong and thumped Taiwan 47-0, but Baber is remaining well and truly grounded ahead of a tough road trip.
“Obviously there are different issues in Korea in terms of not playing in front of your home crowd and the like, but we just want to look at being as consistent as we can,” he said.
Hong Kong’s women are targeting a berth in the final after finishing third three weeks ago and are bracing for a challenging path through a pool C featuring Japan, Singapore and Uzbekistan.
Hong Kong’s Asian sevens first-round success well-deserved but hollow after Japan field understrength side
Hong Kong lost to Japan 28-0 in the opening round and narrowly defeated Singapore 7-0 and coach Anna Richards knows her side will have to be at their best.
“It’s a really good challenge for the girls to improve,” Richards says.
“I think it will be tough. Singapore, obviously we struggled a bit against, and Japan creates a huge amount of pressure on us with their defence.”
Amelie Seure and Lindsay Varty replace the important Aggie Poon Pak-yan and Melody Li Nim-yan.
Hong Kong men’s side
Max Woodward (c), Michael Coverdale, Lee Jones, Chris Maize, Rowan Varty, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Cado Lee Ka-to, Ben Rimene, Alex McQueen, Tom McQueen, Ryan Meacheam, Mark Wright
Hong Kong women’s side
Christy Cheng Ka-chi (c), Adrienne Garvey, Candy Cheng Tsz-ting, Chong Ka-yan, Colleen Tjosvold, Ivy Kwong Sau-yan, Nam Ka-man, Natasha Olson-Thorne, Sham Wai-sum, Cindy Yuen Lok-yee, Amelie Seure, Lindsay Varty