Penguins out to defend Hong Kong Tens title without Super Rugby trio
Kylem O’Donnell, Solomon Alaimolo and Jackson Garden-Bachop secure professional contracts after playing in this year’s event
Reigning HKFC Tens champions the Penguins will have to defend their title with a new-look side after a host of players from this year’s successful campaign have gone on to bigger and better things.
2016 stars Kylem O’Donnell, Solomon Alaimolo and Jackson Garden-Bachop have all secured Super Rugby contracts for next year, while co-coach Scott Waldrom and co-captain Antonio Kiri Kiri have been contracted by the New Zealand Sevens.
“I’ll be looking at last year’s team to see who is available, but O’Donnell, Alaimolo and Garden-Bachop have Super Rugby contracts so I expect a big turnover,” said manager Craig Brown, who has managed the Penguins tours since 1999 including every visit to Hong Kong.
“Also, Scott Waldrom is not available as he’s now coaching New Zealand Sevens. We’ll obviously be trying to win the Cup again and we’ve already started speaking to players to determine their availability.
“We haven’t ruled out using co-coaches and co-captains again as that worked well for us last year.”
O’Donnell, who co-captained this year’s side with Kiri Kiri, has joined 2016 Super Rugby champions Hurricanes, where the scrum half will play with All Blacks Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder, who represented the Penguins at the HKFC Tens in 2010 and 2013 respectively.
Alaimolo has signed with Chiefs, while Garden-Bachop – nephew of legendary All Blacks scrum half Graeme Bachop – has signed a two-year deal with Australia’s Melbourne Rebels.
It will be the Penguins 11th successive campaign in Hong Kong, where the historic UK-based touring club will target a third title in five years at the Hong Kong Football Club from April 5-6.
After securing their first Tens title in 2013 with a last-minute winner against Samurai, the Penguins won this year’s final by beating the same opponents 5-0 with a try in the second five-minute period of extra time.