The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) has confirmed the final 13-man sevens squad to compete in the upcoming Singapore Sevens (15-16 April).
As Asian Sevens champions, Hong Kong have been invited by World Rugby to participate as the 16th team in Singapore. Hong Kong were drawn alongside Fiji, Canada and Russia in a tough pool.
The squad will face a physical challenge of playing in back-to-back World Series events after last weekend’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, where Hong Kong’s run ended in the cup quarter finals.
The squad selected for Singapore includes most of the team that appeared in Hong Kong with the exception of Ben Rimene, who was injured in the final pool match against Chile in the Stadium last weekend.
The squad also sees a change in the nominated injury reserve spot with Mark Wright given more time to fully rehab a shoulder injury as Charles Higson-Smith comes into the team. If Higson-Smith makes it on to the pitch in Singapore he will mark his HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series debut.
Coach Paul John has a 5-7 forwards-backs split with Jack Capon coming into the side to bolster captain Max Woodward, Mike Coverdale, Chris Maize and Toby Fenn up front.
Rowan Varty, who shone last weekend, will add to his Hong Kong record sevens caps totals in an outside back trio of Salom Yiu Kam-shing and Ryan Meacheam.
Jason Jeyam – who made his HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series debut in Hong Kong, will make a second appearance at scrumhalf alongside Cado Lee, Ka-to, with veterans Lee Jones and Jamie Hood likely to see plenty of action in Singapore in Rimene’s absence.
Late call-up for Hong Kong coaches
The squad won’t be the only representatives appearing in Singapore as Hong Kong Sports Institute Coach Mark Komar and Hong Kong flyhalf and Football Club coach Niall Rowark have both been seconded by the HKRU to assist Asia Rugby union Lao this weekend in Singapore.
After the Lao national coach was injured in a car accident, the HKRU has dispatched the two coaches to head up the national woman’s sevens squad in Komar’s case and the men’s national seven for Rowark for this weekend’s Southeast Asian Sevens championship.
Both teams have a stiff test ahead with the men pooled with Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore B while the women are grouped with top Asian side Thailand and Malaysia.
Komar, (who has coached the Hong Kong women’s U20s teams in the past and is the assistant coach of the Hong Kong’s women’s seven under Anna Richards), will be making his international senior coaching debut with Lao.
“I’m really excited as it’s going to be a great experience. Normally, I can rely on Anna to help or provide some insight but now I will have to rely upon my own capabilities.
“I have watched some of the Lao women’s matches ahead of this weekend and while it’s pretty late in the day to make major changes, I will be focusing on providing a good framework for the squad in terms of having a focused build-up to the competition and providing advice and guidance during the tournament.”
Rowark, normally more accustomed to playing at international level as one of Hong Kong’s first choice fly-halves, will be marking his first senior coaching experience of any stripe after coaching in the Hong Kong Football Club’s youth structures.
“It was a bit of a surprise as Marky and I just found out over last weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens. I have not even had a chance to see any of the men’s squad matches, but I know that the Lao players are very committed and don’t shy away from contact so I am sure we will get along well.
“Like Mark, my goal will be to provide a base of support to the team heading into this important competition and to try to minimize any disruption arising from losing their coach late in the campaign.
“I’m really looking forward to getting my first taste of coaching at international level and I am sure that I will learn as much as the boys will this week,” Rowark added.
The finals of both tournaments will be played in the Singapore National Stadium during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ Singapore Sevens.
Hong Kong Men’s Sevens squad for Singapore Sevens
Max WOODWARD (Captain), Michael COVERDALE, Toby FENN, Mark WRIGHT, Jamie HOOD, Jason JEYAM, Lee JONES, Cado LEE Ka-to, Chris MAIZE, Ryan MEACHEAM, Rowan VARTY, Salom YIU Kam-shing, Charles HIGSON-SMITH#
# nominated injury reserve.