Hong Kong Mens National Team in Harare for Zimbabwe Sevens

Travel News Asia Videos Podcasts Latest Travel News Asia Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Hong Kong Mens National Sevens team are preparing for the Zimbabwe Sevens which will be held on Friday and Saturday (14-15 March) at the Harare Sports Club.

Hong Kong is pooled alongside the Zimbabwe Cheetahs, Russia Development Sevens team and Zambia in Pool A. Pool B sees a South African development sevens team Russia, Georgia and the Zimbabwe Rugby Union development team Goshawks.

HKRFU / HKSI Head Coach Gareth Baber has selected a strong travel squad for Zimbabwe, which includes a few new faces in the senior ranks in Chris Maize and Josh Peters and the return of a familiar one, as Japan-based professional player Mark Wright comes back into the squad to try to impress the selectors for a shot at qualifying for his first Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens since 2010.

The squad includes veteran sevens players Jamie Hood (captain), Rowan Varty, Salom Yiu Kam Shing, Tom and Alex McQueen, Kwok Ka Chun, Tsang Hing Hung, Nick Hewson and Ben Rimene.

Gareth Baber said, Zimbabwe will offer us a good level of competition, and certainly some physical competition as well, which is exactly where we need to be to prime ourselves for the Hong Kong Sevens. There are a few teams that will be competing in our end of the tournament in Hong Kong, the likes of Russia and Zimbabwe, so it will be an important measurement for us in terms of where we are at two weeks prior to Hong Kong.

The players will be out to press their case for inclusion in the final squad selected for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens with Baber noting that the tournament could play an important role in his selection.

I have now gotten to a stage where I know the majority of the make-up of the squad for Hong Kong, but there are a couple of injuries around the squad. There are also some players who impressed last month in Margaret River who have come into the squad and are pushing for positions. So it is about generating the level of competition within the squad itself and about making sure that as we go into the Hong Kong Sevens we have players that can be drawn in if we need to, he added.

One of the injury concerns is centre Lee Jones who is recovering from a badly sprained ankle and will be left at home to continue his recovery during the week ahead.

Rowan Varty

Rowan Varty

It was quite a nasty sprain, said Baber. But he looks to be making progress in his recovery. He has been full on in his rehabilitation work over the last week and will continue that whilst we are away in Zimbabwe as well. Hopefully by the time we get back mid-next week he will be in a position to get a fitness test in and we can see where he is at.

Among the new faces included in the side is Chris Maize who has returned from injury and impressed with his play in the domestic league.

It will be one of the first real hit-outs for Chris when he gets out there so it will be good to see him. He has impressed, he is a physical young man with a good skill level and work ethic. Both him and Josh (Peters) need to play at these levels of competition to develop their game, Baber said. Josh was one of the standouts for us in Margaret River and it is important that I am promoting individuals like that within the group and seeing what they look like under tournament pressure. There is an experienced squad around these guys and hopefully they will get the game time for us to see exactly where they are at.

Hong Kongs first pool match is against Russia Development Seven at 15.45 (21.45 Hong Kong time). Hong Kong will then play Zambia at 18.30 (00.30 HK time) and the Zimbabwe national team at 20.30 (02.30 Hong Kong time).

After the completion of pool play, the eight teams in the elite international end of the tournament will be re-ranked and seeded for Saturdays play. In a unique twist, the overnight rankings will also be weighted to favour the teams scoring the most tries. Teams will be awarded one point for each try scored. After the overnight seeding, the top ranked team will play the eighth-ranked team on day two and so on.

The Hong Kong Womens Rugby Sevens team is also on tour this week travelling to Japan for a specialist sevens training camp. The womens team will have training matches against a Japan Select VII at Rissho University on Friday and Saturday. The teams will have three hit-outs against the Japan Select on each day while in Japan.

Rugby, Sevens, Hong Kong

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