The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) has confirmed the final 13-man sevens squad to compete in the World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier played as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (7-9 April).
Hong Kong will take a sixth run at promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the Series Qualifier after advancing to the final of last year’s competition. The defending Asian Sevens champions will face off against Chile, Sri Lanka and Namibia in Pool F.
Coach Paul John had announced an initial squad of 14 last Friday, while waiting to see if prolific try-scoring winger Tom McQueen would pass fit after picking up an injury in last year’s Asian fifteens championship.
McQueen failed to recover fully in time and will join his brother Alex, also unavailable this weekend, in the spectator stands, leaving the team without at least one of the McQueen brothers for the first time in the squad selected for the Hong Kong Sevens since 2011.
With injuries to several backs, new coach Paul John has pulled fireplug scrumhalf Jason Jeyam into the final squad to make his Hong Kong Sevens debut, with Mark Wright being the 13th nominated player as an injury reserve.
Jeyam is in the classic mould of Hong Kong scrumhalves, making up with rare x-factor ability what the 22-year old lacks in size.
The Hong Kong born scrumhalf went to school at KGV, before attending Hartpury University in the United Kingdom. He returned to Hong Kong in June to join the sevens programme at the HKSI and made his senior squad debut in last Autumn’s Asian sevens series, and his fifteens debut in the Cup of Nations last November, injecting pace and unpredictability when he entered the pitch.
Those abilities will be put under the natural microscope that is sevens rugby against some world-class competition in this weekend’s Qualifier, but Jeyam is up for the challenge.
“I’m very very excited. I’ve been going to the Sevens since I was five years old so this is kind of like a dream for me to play in the Stadium. I’m really looking forward to getting on the field in that classic Hong Kong Stadium atmosphere.”
Jeyam is realistic that the competition he will face over the next three days will be the most intense of his rugby life to date but is backing himself.
“I am sure that this will be the toughest tournament I have ever played in. Just like everyone else I have a role to fill on the pitch and I will be focused on that, but I hope I can add a bit of x-factor. I think that once I’m inside the Stadium and on the pitch that adrenaline will kick in a bit.
“Guys like Max [captain Max Woodward] and Rowan [Varty – marking his 12th Hong Kong Sevens cap] have been helping me a lot and letting me know what it’s like on a Sevens weekend. I just hope that I can do my job and support the team,” added Jeyam.
Hong Kong Men’s Sevens squad for World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier
Max WOODWARD (Captain), Michael COVERDALE, Toby FENN, Jamie HOOD, Jason JEYAM*, Lee JONES, Cado LEE Ka-to, Chris MAIZE, Ryan MEACHEAM, Ben RIMENE, Rowan VARTY, Salom YIU Kam-shing, Mark WRIGHT#
* Hong Kong Sevens debut, # nominated injury reserve.
HONG KONG MEN’S SEVENS MATCH SCHEDULE (Pool Rounds)
Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2017, Hong Kong Stadium
Friday 7 April
Saturday 8 April