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Sat, 12 Aug 2017

Hong Kong to Face New Zealand at Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 in Dublin, Ireland

After their opening game of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Dublin, Ireland against the 2013 runners-up, Canada (ranked 2nd in the world), Hong Kong have the daunting task of playing New Zealand, currently ranked third in the world, on Sunday at 12:00 (19:00 Hong Kong time).

National coach Jo Hull has made several changes to the squad, with Royce Chan Leong-sze starting at hooker and Christine Gordon starting at No.8 in an effort to prevent New Zealand from establishing too much momentum in the forwards.

Changes in the backline see ‘BB’ Lee Tsz-ting start at fly-half with emerging star Kelsie Bouttle getting her first start at centre and Lau Sze-wa coming in at full-back.

Hong Kong Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 squad

“We have four games just as hard as Canada, so the selection reflects the need to use all of the squad to manage that. Part of it is managing the player requirement, but also getting selection right for New Zealand. We’ve gone with the team that we think gives us the best chance to halt their momentum. Defensively, we have some strong players on the pitch and are asking our stalwarts to get amongst them. At the same time, we’ve gone with BB [Lee Tsz-ting] at 10 because she gives us a nice attacking option. If we have ball in hand we want to play some attractive rugby,” Hull said.

Hong Kong will have to dig deep to fend off a New Zealand team that was slow out of the blocks against Wales in an eventual 44-12 win.

Rose Hopewell-Fong in action for Hong Kong

“Our tackling must improve. We have got to get them to ground quickly and stop them from building any momentum. We gave Canada too much time with the ball. You can only hold out so long defensively if you are letting your opponents generate all of the momentum. Canada had big, world-class athletes and you can’t give them space with the ball. It will be more of the same against New Zealand and I actually expect them to be tougher than Canada. They will have found their stride after that first game against Wales. New Zealand are a seasoned side, so I’m expecting them to be at another level. They are more clinical than Canada. We forced 11 errors against Canada. New Zealand won’t allow that,” Hull added.

Hull’s side is aware of the challenge but eager to front up again on the world stage.

“We’re feeling positive and excited to play New Zealand. We’ve had two tests against non-Asian opponents in our history and now we’re playing the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams in the world within the space of a week. For the 23rd ranked team in the world it’s a huge honour and a real positive for us. There’s a lot of pride in the locker room over our spirited performance against Canada, but we aren’t satisfied with how we played. We take heart from our performance, but we know we still have a lot to improve on. Mentally we’re in a good place. We’re not okay with losing 98-0 and personal accountability in our performance is hugely important and has to improve. That’s the challenge for us over the next few days,” she said.

Hull said her team is thrilled by the experience of being at the World Cup and has been buoyed by strong support from a large contingent of travelling fans as well as the neutrals inside the stadium.

“It’s been incredible. The team has been touched by the support we’ve received. Support from the crowd really lifted our performance against Canada. Even at 70 minutes, we were attacking, lifted by the crowd, through what was a rough 80 minutes. We need that to continue over the coming days. Some real positives are emerging. We showed warrior toughness against Canada, but it’s not good enough to leave it at that. We have to back that up now. We need a better performance than last week and against another world-class team,” Hull added.

Hong Kong Rugby Union WRWC 2017 Squad vs. New Zealand

Forwards: 1. LAU Nga-wun, Tammy; 2. CHAN Leong-sze, Royce; 3 WONG Yuen-shan; 4. CHOW Mei-nam (captain); 5. TSANG Sin-yan; 6. Amelie SEURE; 7. Winnie SIU; 8. Christine GORDON. Backs: 9. Jessica HO Wai-on; 10. LEE Tsz-ting 11. CHONG Ka-yan; 12. Kelsie BOUTTLE; 13. Natasha OLSON-THORNE; 14. Laurel CHOR Lik-fung; 15. LAU Sze-wah. Reserves: 16. HO Hoi-lam; 17. LEE Ka-shun; 18. PUN Wai-yan; 19. CHENG Ka-chi, Christy; 20. CHAN Ka-yan; 21. Lindsay VARTY; 22. Rose HOPEWELL-FONG Siu-lan (pictured above); 23. Colleen TJOSVOLD

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015, Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.

See other recent news regarding: Hong Kong, Women, Rugby, Ireland, Dublin, New Zealand, All Blacks.

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