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Hong Kong Sevens Stars to play for Samurai in two UK tournaments this summer

6 June, 2017

Hong Kong Rugby Union elite sevens athletes Chris Maize and Eric Kwok Pak-nga will link up with invitational sevens side, Samurai Sevens, in two tournaments in the United Kingdom this summer.

The HKRU development initiative comes as a result of the long-standing relationship between Hong Kong coach Paul John and Samurai. John coached the Samurai Sevens at several tournaments in 2016 prior to accepting the appointment as the Hong Kong coach last March.

“During my time coaching Wales Sevens, we established a strong relationship with Samurai and frequently used their teams to put players in the Samurai set-up to gain valuable tournament experience,” said John.

“Colin Hillman, a close friend of [club founder] Terry Sands’ and both Dai Rees and myself, used to coach Samurai Sevens and he and Terry would always try to get a few Welsh players in every squad. Colin was a mentor to me in my early days coaching sevens and I was always very grateful to Samurai for giving both players and coaches, including myself, the opportunity to get involved whenever possible.

“Full credit to them, Eric and Chris approached me looking for opportunities to get some experience during the summer as they both felt that they needed to play more tournaments. The best environment for them to do this was with Samurai. I immediately reached out to Terry and he was able to offer the boys positions within the squad for the two tournaments in June,” John added.

Erick Kwok (right) high five with his U20 teammates

Maize and Kwok will participate in the Maidenhead and Manchester Sevens tournaments on 10 and 17 June respectively. The two tournaments are part of the UK Sevens Invitational Series.

Samurai are one of the most well known international sevens teams and have made frequent appearances in the Hong Kong Football Club Tens as well as other regional tournaments. Last year they appeared in tournaments on five continents, including the HKFC Tens, where they won the Bowl.

Samurai have always been supportive of international sevens programmes and in the past have assisted the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Spain, Portugal, England, Scotland, Wales and Team Great Britain, in providing world-class tournament exposure for their players in a professional and enjoyable environment.

“We are extremely grateful that Samurai are giving two of our high-potential players an opportunity to play in these high quality tournaments. I hope that both players really benefit from this excellent opportunity and expect them to do themselves and Hong Kong proud,” said John.

The opportunity will be particularly useful for Kwok, who continues to jostle for a regular spot in the Hong Kong men’s senior sevens squad after contributing to the Hong Kong U20s’ repeated success in regional competition.

The summer hit-outs will help further refine Kwok’s preparations for the upcoming Asian Sevens campaign before he starts on a part-time degree programme in Health Education at The Education University of Hong Kong in September.

“This is a great opportunity for me to learn, to get more game time and to test myself. I haven’t played in a proper tournament for a while so I really need this opportunity to help benchmark my standard.

“I’m really looking forward to it as I understand that there are a lot of Premiership players involved. Playing against guys of that quality will help me show my capabilities and allow me to see how I respond to more physical, high intensity rugby,” said Kwok.

Chris Maize stifles a PNG attack