Tens Rugby

Wendell Sailor heads host of former stars in Classic Wallabies side plotting second HKFC Tens assault

The enigmatic winger is joined by ex-internationals Stephen Hoiles and Mark Gerrard as young and old come together for tournament beginning on April 4

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018, 2:33pm

He was a hit at last year’s GFI HKFC Tens and enigmatic winger Wendell Sailor headlines a host of former Australia internationals in the Classic Wallabies side that is preparing to return to Hong Kong.

Tim Horan, a World Cup winner in 1991 and 1999, will coach the Classic Wallabies on their second visit to the Tens, which kick off on April 4.

Stephen Hoiles is another of the ex-Wallabies in the side and praised the role of the invitational team in helping to develop young talent.

“One of the best things about our trip last year was that three of the guys in our side [Dylan Pietsch, Tom Connor, Ben O’Donnell] have gone on to become Australia Sevens regulars,” he said.

Sailor raved about the bond between the senior players and the youngsters at last year’s Tens and ex-internationals Mark Gerrard, Adam Freier and Julian Huxley are among the additions to the team who will be looking to share their knowledge.

Towering forward Peter Kimlin, who is playing in the Japan Top League, is also in a side that will again feature several rising stars.

“Aside from the guys mentioned, we’ve got more Wallabies to announce including one or two more big names, plus we’ll have some younger players again,” said Hoiles, the former Waratahs and Brumbies flanker who played 16 times for Australia including at the 2007 World Cup.

“The standard was great [last year] and we thought it would be because we’d heard a lot about the tournament. We expected it to be pretty hard.

“It probably caught a couple of guys who had been away from the game by surprise, but that’s the balancing act for us – getting enough former Wallabies and enough up-and-comers.”

First-time competitors in the tournament’s 33rd edition include the CCIG Tigers, a development partner of USA Rugby, and a Sedbergh School Old Boys team captained by former England rugby league international Ewan Dowes.

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The Tigers are a well-travelled touring side who have proven to be a breeding ground for international stars – including USA sevens speedster Parry Baker – and will be making their 10-a-side debut in Hong Kong.

“As a development partner to USA Rugby, the Tigers have unearthed many gems, with over 45 players going on to international honours,” said co-founder James Walker. “We’ve been thinking about coming to the HKFC Tens for many years.”

Sedbergh School is renowned for producing over 30 rugby union internationals including long-time England captain Will Carling and 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood, while Dowes is a rare public school-educated rugby league international.

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Ben Collins, Sedbergh School’s alumni director, said: “We know how tough the competition is, we know the pace and that physically it’s a huge demand. It’s a very exciting challenge for us, we’re bringing a super-competitive group of players and we are keen to do well.”

UBB Gavekal will defend their title, while other leading sides include two-time champions Penguins, three-time runners-up Samurai International and Tradition YCAC.