Hong Kong will make a raft of changes to the
starting XV against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Saturday as senior
coach Leigh Jones looks to confirm his best team before the
business end of the IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifiers commences
later this month against South Korea and Japan.
Jones who admits to already having a “good idea”
of what his best team is, will use the first away match for Hong
Kong in the Asian Five Nations to test the mettle of some fresh
combinations under hot and humid conditions in Colombo.
I know my best team? Yes. And I think this weekend will help me
confirm that in terms of the starting 15 for Korea (next Saturday
in Hong Kong),” said Jones.
Hong Kong will meet
Japan on 25 May in what is expected to be the battle for the
direct berth given to Asia for the World Cup.
Japan, six-time A5N champions, are heavily favoured to win,
leaving Hong Kong needing a crucial result against South Korea at
Hong Kong Football Club to advance to the initial repechage stage.
For this weekend’s match, Hong Kong will make four
changes to the pack which started against the Philippines last Saturday with skipper and blindside flanker Nick Hewson starting
after coming off the bench last week.
Bolland and tight head prop James Cooper also come in while Jack
Delaforce is a new face in the second row.
backs, Hong Kong’s sevens captain Jamie Hood will start at
scrumhalf replacing Kenneth Hsieh while Tom McQueen returns from a
shoulder injury to take his place on the right wing displacing Salom Yiu Kam-shing who wasn’t passed fit for this game.
Jones has remained faithful with his mid-field pairing of
Hong Kong Football Club duo Jake Phelps and Lloyd Jones and the
only other change in the three quarters is Tom McColl starting at
fullback instead of Alex McQueen who will be on the bench.
“The competition in the squad is really, really healthy
and I think it is adding a positive dynamic, hence the changes,” Jones said. “If I thought they would compromise our performance at
all I wouldn’t have gone for it. But I don’t think it will affect
our performance levels. We have managed to produce
some depth in the squad. The competition for places is strong
leading up to the final two games and I wanted to give everyone a
fair shout as it were to put their hands up for the Korea game and
for the finale against Japan. Having
said that, we are very aware of the challenges that Sri Lanka will
pose. They were humbled a little bit against South Korea so we
need to be ready for a backlash. We have said all
along that it will be arrogant to look too far ahead in the
competition and are still maintaining our week by week, match by
match approach. Sri Lanka are a good physical side
with dangerous backs, we will have to ensure that we handle the
challenge they pose up front and try to deprive them of good
possession. That will be one of the keys for us on Saturday.”
Buoyed by a massive 108-0 victory over the
Philippines, Hong Kong will be quietly confident as they take on
Sri Lanka who lost their opening encounter last week going down
59-3 to South Korea in Incheon.
Hong Kong Squad for Sri
1. Leon WEI, Hon Sum, 2. Thomas BOLLAND, 3.
James COOPER, 4. Jack DELAFORCE, 5. Paul DWYER, 6. Nicholas HEWSON
(Captain), 7. Matt LAMMING, 8. Pale TAUTI, 9. Jamie HOOD, 10.
Chris MCADAM, 11. Rowan VARTY, 12. Jake PHELPS, 13. Lloyd JONES,
14. Tom MCQUEEN, 15. Tom MCCOLL, 16. Alex NG, Wai Shing, 17. Steve
NOLAN, 18. Alex HARRIS, 19. Bill BRANT, 20. Alex BADDELEY, 21.
Peter MCKEE, 22. Alex MCQUEEN, 23. Nick WHEATLEY.
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