HKRU Premiership 2016-17

Beating Hong Kong while playing for Arabian Gulf a highlight for HKCC recruit James Love

The 29-year-old has been a revelation for the Cricketers this season, playing every minute of every game and earning a reputation for his lethal goal kicking

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 December, 2016, 2:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 December, 2016, 10:30pm

Born and raised in Bahrain, HKCC fullback James Love considers beating Hong Kong as one of his career highlights.

The 29-year-old, who has played professionally in England, was a member of the Arabian Gulf team that proved too strong for Hong Kong in the 2010 Asian Five Nations.

“That is one of my career highlights, playing Hong Kong and beating Hong Kong at my home ground in Bahrain where I grew up,” Love said.

“We had quite a successful year actually, we beat Hong Kong and we beat South Korea and lost to Japan and Kazakhstan.”

The Arabian Gulf side – made up of players from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – was disbanded soon after and Love looks back fondly on his experiences with the team.

“It was a really special time in my career because we were a really tight-knit group, we all wanted to play for each other,” he said.

“We had so many different nationalities, we had South Africans, Kiwis, English guys, Irish guys, there was any number of different people and they all became eligible by living in the Middle East for three years.”

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Love joined HKCC this year on the back of stints playing with the Ealing Trailfinders and London Scottish in England and has been a revelation in a season of up and downs for his new club.

The resignation of coach Deacon Manu and a raft of injuries – they were unable to field a side in round seven - has ensured an anything but stable year for HKCC.

Love, however, has stood firm throughout, playing every minute of every game and earning a reputation for his deadly goal kicking.

“Where I was playing in the UK I probably wasn’t getting as much game time as I would have liked and that was quite a big frustration,” Love said.

“To play every minute of every game here, you play rugby to play, not to sit on the bench. It’s nice to have an impact on a squad a bit more than I probably did in my last two years playing professional rugby in the UK.”

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HKCC are looking to head into the Christmas break on a high against Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers on Thursday and coach Kevin West knows it will be tough with a raft of players missing.

“We have a total of something like 18 or 19 [missing] out of our 32 man squad, which obviously narrows things,” he said.

“But it is a great opportunity for the rest of the players to pull together. We have been hunting around to put a team together and people have put their hand up, so we will go in and try and unite and get a performance happening.”

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West is expecting a tough Tigers side and is not reading anything into the fact they are sitting bottom of the table.

“I don’t think their results are reflective of either their performances or the quality of what they have so I know they’ll be desperate to put that right,” he said.

Elsewhere, Societe Generale Valley face Bloomberg HK Scottish and Natixis HKFC meet Kowloon.