Power the name of the game as Hong Kong turn to Jack Capon and Charlie Higson-Smith for Singapore Sevens
Paul John hopes his side can throw off the shackles and play without pressure against Fiji, Canada and Russia this weekend in the Lion City
It is all about power for Hong Kong this weekend as Paul John’s men look to throw off the shackles at the Singapore Sevens.
The big-bodied Jack Capon and Charlie Higson-Smith come in to the team from last weekend’s qualifying competition at the Hong Kong Sevens, replacing the injured Ben Rimene and Mark Wright.
“The main reason we looked at those two players to come into the squad is because you have to carry hard in this game and maintain your own possession,” John said.
“Obviously the bigger you are and more powerful you are, the more chance you are of having those good carries over the gain line and giving us go-forward.
“When you look at all the squads on the World Series, they are big, powerful men and they have a lot of physicality.”
Hong Kong take on Fiji, Russia and Canada in pool A in Singapore and, after bombing out at the quarter-final stage of the qualifier last week on home soil, John feels his side can approach the tournament in a more relaxed manner.
“We’ve got no pressure on us to achieve anything. If we can perform to the best that we can perform and do ourselves justice then the boys can enjoy the tournament,” he said.
“There should be no fear, the boys are more than capable of doing well and it is just a matter of expressing ourselves.”
Olympic champions Fiji returned to their dominant best with victory in Hong Kong and will provide the ultimate test first up for John’s men.
“It’s great for the boys, they enjoyed training against Fiji two Saturdays ago,” John said.
“We have to think back to that, the boys really went for it then and had a good training session against them.”
The aggression of Canada and Russia will stretch Hong Kong, with the in-form Canada sure to bring an intense brand of rugby after making it to the Cup quarter-finals last weekend in Hong Kong.
“Being tested against these teams is what Hong Kong needs to push the programme forward,” John said.
“The big thing is to be able to relax and play. If we perform well this weekend in a very tough group, it should give the boys confidence.”
Hong Kong trained on Wednesday and Thursday in a bid to adapt to the humidity in Singapore, with John forecasting a need for his side to be flexible throughout what is set to be a ruthless tournament.
Higson-Smith will start as the injury reserve and make his sevens debut if he is called into action
“Somebody is possibly going to have to do a bit of movement from the forwards to the backs at some stage,” John said.
The reunion with former coach Gareth Baber adds another layer to the clash with Fiji, with John saying the Hong Kong camp were “chuffed to bits” that Fiji went all the way last weekend.
There is a chance the ex-Wales coach could face a reunion of his own if Hong Kong cross paths with the side he led to victory in the 2009 Sevens World Cup.
“Playing Wales would be very strange,” John said. “I haven’t thought about that at all at the moment, but we will know if it’s a possibility come Saturday night.”
Hong Kong squad:
Max Woodward (c), Michael Coverdale, Toby Fenn, Jack Capon, Jamie Hood, Jason Jeyam, Lee Jones, Cado Lee Ka-to, Chris Maize, Ryan Meacheam, Rowan Varty, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Charlie Higson-Smith.