Hong Kong is set to open its 2012 HSBC Asian 5
Nations (HSBC A5N) Top 5 campaign with a crucial away match versus
the UAE on Friday night, (27 April).
Historically, away wins have
made the difference for teams hoping to avoid relegation from the
Top 5 and Hong Kong will be eager to avoid a repeat of the
surprise defeat on its last away trip to UAE in the HSBC A5N,
where they lost 16-9 in Bahrain in 2010.
A 23-man travelling squad has been selected with
one additional player brought along as injury cover for the
opening match while the team waits on the fitness status of prop
The Hong Kong Football Club front row trio of
Steve Nolan, Tom Bolland and Ian Ridgway are all available to play
for the first time since the Emirates Airlines Cup of Nations in
Dubai and all are expected to earn their first HSBC A5N caps in
the coming weeks.
Senior Coach Leigh Jones has selected
six HKFC forwards in the travel squad for the opening encounter in
Dubai. The squad is led by Pale Tauti from DeA RFC at No. 8 who
marks his first HSBC A5N campaign as captain.
the squad are some of Hong Kong’s veteran A5N campaigners
including winger Rowan Varty and prop Alex Ng Wai Shing, who each
has 11 HSBC A5N caps, as well as Keith Robertson at fly-half who
has nine to his credit.
Hong Kong beat UAE twice last year
at the Hong Kong Football Club in the HSBC A5N and again away in
the Cup of Nations last December, but Senior Coach Leigh Jones is
mindful of the dangers of complacency.
“We are very
respectful and very mindful of the danger of being complacent in
Dubai. It is something we have talked a lot about this week. We
know that the UAE have something like 10 newly qualified players
and that they recently ran Tunisia close in Tunis. So really we
are facing a new opponent and a very difficult one on a Friday
night, which is a bit unusual for us in terms of test match
timings. But as a team we are looking forward to the challenge,”
Despite having their preparation hampered somewhat by an
extended sevens campaign this year with Hong Kong taking part in the Tokyo Sevens at end March, Jones is pleased with how the team
has come together.
“We have had a good preparation and
selection for the opening trip away has been very difficult from a
performance perspective. We are leaving a lot of good players back
in Hong Kong which is a testament to the competition for positions
in the squad, but we are confident that the team we have selected
is ready for the challenge,” he said.
Last year, Hong Kong enjoyed
its most successful HSBC A5N campaign ever, finishing as
runners-up to Japan for the first time since the inception of the
tournament in 2008.
Hong Kong will take on UAE at The
Sevens at 20:00 (Dubai time). The match will be aired LIVE on Star
Sports on Friday night at 23.55 Hong Kong time.
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