The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) men’s
national sevens squad will use this weekend’s Bangkok Sevens as a
build-up for its showcase competition, the
Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
HKRFU Head of Performance and Coaching and
National Coach Dai Rees is eager to use this final sevens hit-out
before Hong Kong to try out some new combinations and strategies
for Asia’s number two sevens side.
Part of the
inaugural HSBC Asian Sevens Series in 2011, the Bangkok Sevens,
the third leg of the Series, was postponed due to the severe
floods that affected the capital last November. It will now be
played at the Police Stadium in Bangkok this weekend (11-12 February) with eight teams confirmed for the non-ranking event.
Japan, the number one sevens team in Asia based on
their results at the two HSBC Asian Sevens Series 2011 ranking
events in Borneo and Shanghai, will head Pool A.
also features the Philippines, one of four Asian teams along with
Hong Kong, Japan and China, which qualified for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens based on their results on the HSBC
Asian Sevens Series. The UAE Shaheen, an all Emirati development
side, and Laos round out Pool A.
runners-up in the HSBC Asian Sevens Series, are the top seeds in
Pool B and will face stiff competition from experienced sides
Malaysia and the hosts Thailand. Pakistan, another debut team on
the Series, completes Pool B.
“From a preparation
standpoint it is ideal to have an international tournament in
February. Bangkok gives us the opportunity to look at a few new
combinations as we build up to the Hong Kong Sevens,” said Coach
Rees. “But it will also be a challenge for us as
we are mindful of the fact that after Hong Kong we will travel to
Tokyo for the Japan Sevens and then face our first XVs
international just a few weeks later in the HSBC Asian Five
Nations. So we have to balance our preparations for Bangkok with
readying several squads for different competitions at the same
time. This will be a great test of the depth we have been able to
develop over the past few seasons.”
With the players still in XVs mode due to the ongoing HKRFU
Domestic League, the Bangkok Sevens will offer the squad a useful opportunity to slip back into the abbreviated game.
The members of the squad selected for Bangkok will join a
larger training squad for the final selection for the Hong Kong
and Japan Sevens on their return. This squad will be pared down
over time with the 12-man squad for Hong Kong to be announced on
As testament to the importance of the
opportunity presented by the Bangkok Sevens, Rees has named a
strong squad with many of his veteran selections in the picture.
Among the regulars to feature in Bangkok will be Rowan Varty,
Keith Robertson, Salom Yiu Kam-Shing, Simon Leung Ho-Yam, brothers
Tom and Alex McQueen as well as Ross Armour and Anthony Haynes.
Rowan Varty will captain the side in Bangkok.
have to develop squads across both XVs and sevens in the coming
months, so we hope to use 14 or 15 players across the two sevens
tournaments in Hong Kong and Tokyo. This will give us the depth we
need to play at IRB level, while also allowing us to focus the
larger training squad on our upcoming XVs commitments,” Rees said.
One player Rees will have an extra close watch on this
weekend is Ally Maclay. The utility player figured in the Hong
Kong squad that emerged triumphant at the HSBC Asian Sevens Series
event in Goa last December, but Rees has other plans for him in
“Ally will get his second sevens call-up
after Goa, but this time we will be playing him at his natural XVs
position as a big, hard- running back rather than in the forwards
where he played in Goa. Bangkok gives us the opportunity to
continue to look at players like Ally who have recently become
able to represent Hong Kong,” Rees said.
player who will be under scrutiny is Alex McQueen. The winger had
to step into the scrumhalf slot as injury cover last year at the
Paradise Sevens in Australia’s Gold Coast. After impressing in
Australia, Rees is toying with the idea of continuing with him in
“Alex stepped up in Australia by
filling in as a scrum-half. He was outstanding in the Gold Coast
so we wanted to give him another opportunity to run from
scrum-half and he will get that chance in Bangkok,” Rees added.
Despite the frenetic build-up required over the next few
months, Coach Rees’ expectations are high.
“As a Union we
will have our work cut out for us with the HSBC Sevens World
Series events and an intense period of XVs over the next two
months. But our players and coaches are confident that we have
cultivated the required depth in our player pool. Our goal over
this crucial phase is to take the top spot in Asian sevens while
defending our second place position in XVs and closing the gap against Japan. The campaign starts this weekend in Bangkok and I
know we will give it our best shot.”
Hong Kong will open
its account at the Bangkok Sevens against Pakistan on Saturday, 11
February, at the Police Stadium in Bangkok.
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