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Asia Rugby Sevens Series

He’s back! Raef Morrison rejoins Hong Kong sevens for Asia Rugby Series after four-year break

Hong Kong sevens are in South Korea for second leg of Asia Rugby Series

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 September, 2018, 10:44pm

Raef Morrison admits he is a bit nervous heading into the second leg of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series in South Korea on Saturday. The Hong Kong-native last suited up for the national squad four years ago at the tender age of 19, but then headed off to university in Scotland to complete his undergraduate degree in geography.

Luckily, one thing has stayed the same, the West Island School graduate’s pre-game playlist he uses to pump himself up if he is trying to shake off some nerves. Although he is holding the song queue pretty close to his chest.

“Some of them are pretty embarrassing,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve been listening to the same ones since I was in year 11, so I guess you could say that has been my only superstition over the years.”

He did divulge a few tracks, Good Life and Gold Digger by Kanye West and some old Eminem from the rapper’s glory days in the early-2000s when Morrison would have still been a pre-teen. But other than that, the 23-year-old was tight-lipped: “I’ll keep most of them to myself.”

Morrison, who has been back in Hong Kong since August after returning from the University of Edinburgh, said the Hong Kong national team programme had been great over the years, allowing him to train with the squad during summer and winter breaks from school. Now he is home and his focus is solely on rugby and the sevens.

The squad’s first game at Namdong Asiad Stadium will take place Saturday (September 29) against host nation South Korea. Morrison’s fingers are crossed that all goes well in what might feel like a second debut for the team.

“I hope it’s like riding a bike and it just comes back to you. I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous but I’m just going to go out there and do my small part for the team.”

Heartbreak for Hong Kong in Asia Rugby Sevens Series

Coach Paul John said he knows Morrison will be up to the challenge, adding the competition for the sevens team is reaching a fever pitch with more players returning home to Hong Kong to play rugby.

“It is a very attractive option to come back and try to get into these squads with so much opportunity and offers,” said John. “It is more difficult now as the squads are bigger and the guys are stronger and have been training together for a while, but it is always good to see (a player like Morrison) come back and try to stake their claim.”

Trio of tyros lead Hong Kong to easy victories on opening day of Asia Rugby Sevens Series

The squad will then play speedy Sri Lanka to round out Saturday’s fixtures, and complete group play early on Sunday against Chinese Taipei. Japan, Malaysia, China and the Philippines round out the other group.

Hong Kong lost a heartbreaking match to Japan in the first leg of the Asia Series on home turf, falling 12-0 after looking incredibly impressive during the group stage.

Also joining the squad along with Morrison will be Kane Boucaut, filling in for Alessandro Nardoni and Lee Jones.

The women’s squad finished fourth during the first leg of the Asia Series, held at the Hong Kong Football Club two weekends ago. The team goes into the second leg ranked second in their group behind Japan, who won the first leg and also the Asian Games this summer.

The women finished fourth in the first leg of the Asia Games, held at the Hong Kong Football Cub a fortnight ago, and are ranked second in their pool behind first-leg winners and Asian Games champions Japan. China top the other group along with Kazakhstan, Thailand and Singapore.