TravelNewsAsia.com
Wed, 23 Aug 2017

Hong Kong Rugby Union Selects 16-Man Squad for Training Camp in Germany

Hong Kong Rugby Union sevens coach Paul John has selected a 16-man squad for an intensive weeklong training camp in Germany ahead of the start of the Asian sevens series at Kings Park on 1-2 September.

The squad features some new faces after the departure of Max Woodward and Cado Lee Ka-to to the Top League for the upcoming Japanese season, and the absence of Alex and Tom McQueen, who, following in the footsteps of former players Keith Robertson and Mark Goosen, have enrolled in a year-long pilot training programme with Cathay Pacific in Australia.

Ryan Meacheam also returned to New Zealand in the off-season, leaving John without some key cogs for Hong Kongs Asian title defence.

Paul John. Click to enlarge.

If you think who weve lost, probably five of our first team players are gone, so thats a big change for us, but thats rugby and we have been preparing for it since last season, said John. Having said that, both Cado and Max are very keen to link up with us as soon as they can after the Japanese season ends in January. Tom and Alex are away for most of the year but we spoke before they went away about how they can be considered for upcoming competitions like the Asian Games. These players will have to make themselves available and be able to train and play for us as well, because this group at the moment has got really close and is training really hard, so it will be difficult to make the squad just by coming up the week before.

The changes mean more opportunities for new players, including two U20s players who shone at the recent Asia Rugby U20s Sevens championships, which Hong Kong won, Fong Kit Fung and Chong Shun Hong.

Hong Kong Scottish No.8 Kane Boucaut and Kowloon fly-half Jack Neville have also been seconded to the squad from the fifteen-aside Elite Rugby Programme to shore up the numbers for the Asian series.

All of the players have been training with the wider squad since training resumed in early July and John is pleased with the progress to date.

The new players have gone really really well. Kane is a quick, fit forward and is quite physical, which is good because the sevens game has gotten more physical now, and its great to have another back in Jack Neville, after what weve lost in the off-season.  Weve lost two or three centres and its important to have another talented back like Jack in the squad to help us rotate and share the workload. Both have been with us since we started training in July and they have done extremely well, John said.

Hong Kong U20 Chong Shun Hong is called up for the Germany training camp with the senior squad. Click to enlarge.

John is also excited about the talent coming through from Hong Kongs successful U20s programme.

Fong Kit-fung and Chong Shun-hong both had really good tournaments at the U20s. Fong scored something like 11 tries and Chong scored nearly as many. Both have been training with us all of this season and for the last six weeks of last year as cover for the boys who were involved in the Asia Rugby Championship and Im excited to see how they go at the next level, he said. Jev [Coach Jevon Groves] and I have been working closely with the U20s programme over the past three or four months. Weve had a few development camps with them and invited the U20s boys to train with us in the build-up to the U20s sevens tournament. Were really focusing on integrating the programmes to show that there is a clear player pathway for players to the senior sevens squad. The support from our U20s sevens coaches, Kei-jai (Fan Shun-kei) and Stephen Dowse, has been great. Theyve worked closely with Jev and I and our joint training programme has helped both sides prepare for their upcoming competitions.

James Karton was also involved in the training programme this summer but will be unavailable for the start of the Asian series due to the upcoming World Rugby Junior Trophy.

Fong and Chong join several recent graduates from the U20s, including Alessandro Nardoni, Jason Jeyam and Hugo Stiles, in Germany.

Hugos doing really good. Hes a bottle of pop, a real livewire and a great character. Its 100% or nothing with him, which is great. Ali, Mike and the other recent U20s graduates have been with us since last spring and its been great to work with them intensively for the past few months.

Despite the changes in the senior ranks, the build-up has progressed nicely according to John.

I can't speak highly enough of how well the boys have been training to be honest. Theyre really working hard on their skills and being responsible for developing their own skills as well; theyve been very mature from that point of view. Everyone is playing well and nearly everyone is fit, so theres some really good competition in the squad for spots. Weve hit all of our markers in training and now the biggest thing is to do that in competition, which is what Germany is all about. It is important now to give the boys an opportunity to put their hands up. Were taking away 16 players so everyone will have a good opportunity and Im looking forward to seeing how they all go, said John.

John will select his opening squad based in part on the performance in Germany.

Germany were keen on hosting us and obviously it will be a good training environment as we are being hosted in the Olympic centre in Heidelberg. Well train amongst ourselves for a few days and then with them for two days before we travel home. We just want to give the boys some more competition really, as we prepare for the Asian series. After the turnover amongst the senior players, Im looking forward to seeing how we go against another professional outfit in Germany, and of course the week after in the Asian series, he said.

Hong Kong Mens Sevens Germany Training Camp (19-25 August)

Christopher MAIZE, Toby FENN, Mark WRIGHT, Sebastien BRIEN, Alessandro NARDONI, Tomasi LAWA, Jason JEYAM, Hugo STILES, Ben RIMENE, Jack NEVILLE, Jamie HOOD, FONG Kit-fung, YIU Kam-shing, Kane BOUCAUT, CHONG Shun-hong, Michael COVERDALE.

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, 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.

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