Hong Kong’s World Cup qualifiers the target for Alex Harris as he works back to fitness after ACL injury
The hooker comes off the bench in Kowloon’s opening four matches in the HK Premiership after sitting out a full season
After a full year out of the game because of an ACL injury, Kowloon hooker Alex Harris is back on the field and has his sights set on playing a part in Hong Kong’s World Cup qualifiers next year.
The 29-year-old, who debuted for Hong Kong in 2010, has come off the bench in Kowloon’s first four matches this season and has been involved part-time with the national squad throughout his rehab.
“I’m only 29 and have still got a couple more seasons in me yet, I definitely would like to get back and get another cap,” he said.
“Obviously it’s World Cup qualifiers next year and I’d love to be involved in that, but I need to get a good string of games under my belt.”
Harris actually made his return last season in Kowloon’s grand championship final loss to Societe Generale Valley, playing 10 minutes off the bench.
“When I did it, it was right at the end of the [2015-16] season so I missed pretty much the whole of last season,” he said. “It's taken a long time to get back into it, to get my fitness and everything back up.”
While it has been all positive so far, Harris admits this November’s Cup of Nations, when Hong Kong welcome Russia, Kenya and Chile, is likely to come a little too soon.
“I just don’t think I’ve got enough rugby under my belt,” he said. “I hope to get back in their once I’ve had a run of games and got back to starting.
“It depends on my form and I’m away quite a bit with work, which makes it a bit more difficult.”
Kowloon have had a tough start to the season, winning only one match so far, but coach James Scaysbrook is pleased with what he has seen from Harris.
“He worked very hard over his year off, it’s not as if he rested,” Scaysbrook said. “He’s come back in good condition and he’s looked good in the first few rounds considering he hasn’t played for a year.”
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Kowloon take on Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC in the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership this Saturday and Harris feels the tide is turning for the side.
“I think we have been pretty unlucky in a few of our games,” he said. “A similar thing happened last year as well, and we brought it all together and it started to click and we managed to turn those close losses into wins. It feels like the same thing could happen and those results will start going our way.”
As far as overcoming HKCC, Scaysbrook is confident a few minor improvements will make all the difference.
“We are making a few too many basic errors and we need to get back to basics this week,” he said. “We turned over way too much possession last week, so hopefully we can get back to a bit of form.”
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Elsewhere on Saturday, Valley take on Natixis HKFC and Bloomberg HK Scottish lock horns with Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers.
In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, Kowloon play City Sparkle, HKFC face Valley, Tai Po tackle CWB Phoenix and Gai Wu and Tigers do battle.