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Hong Kong Rugby Union

Impressing my mum is the most important thing, says Hong Kong prodigy Matt Worley ahead of Natixis Cup

The 20-year-old’s family will be on hand as he steps out for Racing 92 against the Sharks on Saturday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 February, 2018, 4:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 February, 2018, 10:57pm

He’s making his first senior start for French powerhouses Racing 92 and Saturday’s Natixis Cup will be a family affair for Hong Kong boy Matt Worley.

The 20-year-old’s mum, dad and sister will be on hand at Aberdeen to watch him against South Africa’s Sharks and Worley thinks his mum is more excited than he is.

“It’s been a long time since my mum, dad and sister have all seen me play together, it’s awesome to be home,” said Worley, who has spent the season in Racing’s under-23 team.

“My mum’s really wanting to see me play, she hasn’t come to a single game in France yet, she hasn’t been able to so she is more excited than anyone. I just want to play a solid match really and make my family proud.

“In the preseason games I was on the bench, which I was expecting. To come on and get 20 or 30 minutes was still a great opportunity.

“The fact I can start this game is a bit of a surprise but I’m also excited by the challenge and representing Hong Kong in the game.”

Worley’s captain Dimitri Szarzewski was in good spirits on Friday despite being unavailable for the clash due to a neck injury, suggesting Racing’s difficult 2016-17 season and the absence of the Natixis Cup are directly linked.

“Two years ago we played against the Highlanders and we won and we had a great season after that game, we won the title. It was amazing,” he said.

“Last year we didn’t come here and we had a sh*t season, so we can say Hong Kong is a good-luck charm. We can say we are playing at home, it is nice to be here.”

The 2017 edition of the exhibition match didn’t eventuate because of the tragic death of Munster coach Anthony Foley on the eve of their European Champions Cup clash with Racing.

Racing are sitting third in the French Top 14 and have made it through to the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup this season, ensuring a huge few months lay in store for the club.

Mixing with Dan Carter, flying business class and trips to Lan Kwai Fong all part of Racing 92 life for Hong Kong’s Matt Worley

But for Szarzewski, the opportunity to escape the mid-season pressure is what has the team most excited.

“It’s a friendly game so it’s different, in France we play a lot, the season is very long,” Szarzewski said.

“It’s nice to cut the season and to play this kind of game because we don’t have the pressure, the result is not important. We can play a lot, we can do a lot of passing.”

Star fly half Dan Carter has been named on the bench and is touch and go to take to the field.

“The calf tightened up a little bit after Saturday’s game, so fingers crossed,” Carter said, adding that he and his teammates have had a relaxing few days.

“We managed to do some sightseeing over in Macau, it was the first time for a lot of the boys to head over there. We saw [The House of Dancing Water], which was a fair spectacle.”

Why come to the Natixis Cup? Carrie Lam might not be on the sidelines, but it does have free beer and Dan Carter

While Racing are thriving on some down time, the Sharks are only two weeks out from their opening Super Rugby match against the Lions on February 17.

“We have somewhat different objectives for this game, this is our second game in our preseason,” coach Robert du Preez said. “We want to gauge where we are from a conditioning point of view and the players in the team are there to stake some claims for our first game.”