Hong Kong sevens coach Paul John has tipped
another new-look squad for Hong Kong’s appearance in this
weekend’s Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens (4-5
As an invitational tournament, the side will be
competing as Hong Kong Dragons this weekend and no senior caps
will be awarded.
The selection comes after John already featured
five new faces in the Hong Kong squad for the Asia Rugby Sevens
Series this summer. John’s efforts to broaden his playing base
paid off on the series with Hong Kong reaching two of the three
finals to claim second place overall and qualify for the Rugby
World Cup Sevens.
While the participating teams and pools were yet
to be announced at press time, the SCC Sevens is known for attracting shadow and
full sevens squads from several teams on the international circuit
and John expects at least one Fijian side to be competing as well
as the national team of Sweden.
“We were invited to take part and wanted to
capitalise on this opportunity. I think the recent selections show
that there is a lot of opportunity within the sevens set-up for
players in the next two years really. So we want to spread the net
as wide as possible, to not just keep our senior group in
competitive form, but to develop that next generation of senior
players in Hong Kong,” John said.
In Singapore, experienced forwards Chris Maize,
Mark Wright and Calvin Hunter will provide the veteran leadership
for a 12-man squad that features four of the Hong Kong U20s squad
that played in the World Rugby Junior Trophy in September.
Maize will captain Hong Kong for the first time
under John as the coach rewards the rangy forward for his
commitment to the programme.
“Chris is one of the senior players in the squad
and he brings a lot of experience to the side. He has been very
good in the environment and he is a great organizer and leader on
the pitch, particularly around the kick-offs and the lineout. He
has been a consistent performer in the seven or eight months that
I have been involved and he deserves this chance to show some of
that leadership in the captain’s role this weekend,” John added.
Four U20s representatives have been included,
amongst them the U20s captain, Mark Coebergh, as well as James
Karton, Jack Abbott and Max Denmark, who already made his senior
sevens debut in the finale of the Asian Series in Sri Lanka.
They will play alongside former U20s squad-mate
Hugo Stiles, who cemented his place in the senior sevens squad
with some positive performances in the recent Asian championships.
“This is a really good opportunity for all of
the U20s players, not just for them to show what they can do but
for Jev [assistant coach Jevon Groves] and I to have a look at
them and all of the players really. All of those selected have
been training with us for many months now and have shown a lot of
effort, so this tournament is a just reward for their commitment
and also an important opportunity for them to grow. You can only
learn so much training with your peers, the real gains are made in
that competitive tournament environment,” John noted.
Recent age grade veterans in Alessandro Nardoni,
Liam Herbert and Eric Kwok Pak-nga have also all earned selection
and a chance to impress the selectors ahead of what will be an
active campaign in 2018 as the team beings its preparations for
the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, the HSBC World Rugby
Singapore Sevens and the Rugby World Cup Sevens this spring and
Singapore will mark the final sevens outing of
2017 but tours to Fiji and Borneo are planned for the build-up to
the Hong Kong Sevens as well as an incoming tour from the Shandong
provincial side in the first quarter of 2018.
Hong Kong Squad for SCC International Sevens
Chris MAIZE (captain) (USRC Tigers), Mark WRIGHT
(HKFC), Calvin HUNTER (USRC Tigers), Eric KWOK Pak-nga (USRC
Tigers), Hugo STILES (Valley), Mark COEBERGH (HK Scottish),
Alessandro NARDONI (HK Scottish), Max DENMARK (HKFC), Jack ABBOTT,
Liam HERBERT (HKFC), Tomos HOWELLS (USRC Tigers), James KARTON
Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015,
Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong
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,
of Chartis Cup 2012 and
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.
See other recent