Hong Kong Men’s Seven set for battle in Borneo

22 March, 2019


The Hong Kong Rugby Union has announced the men’s squad for this weekend’s Borneo Sevens, the last warm-up tournament ahead of next month’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Qualifier, played as part of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens (5-7 April). 

The squad features a number of players marking their first sevens action following the conclusion of the HKRU Premiership with Max Denmark, Seb Brien, Jack Neville and Kane Boucaut all getting a run in Malaysia.

“It’s a bit of a mix really,” Hong Kong Sevens coach Paul John said of the squad.

“There are a few boys that have not played sevens in a while, like Max, Jack and Kane, whether through Premiership commitments or coming back to fitness after injury. We also have given an opportunity to a few players we want to have a look at, and there are a few players left out who aren’t 100% at the moment, and it didn’t make sense to push their recovery at this time.

“Selection for Hong Kong is obviously still very much on our minds and the final squad won’t be selected until closer to the tournament. We are also travelling to Singapore the week after, [ed: Hong Kong will be the 16th team invited by World rugby to play at the Singapore Sevens], so there is a lot to play for at the moment for all of the squad,” John added.

With a growing talent pool, selection is becoming harder and harder for John and the selection panel.

“When I arrived two years ago there was a bit of a transition with a lot of senior players in the squad leaving for different reasons, personal, careers, et cetera. It was imperative that we built that base to get more numbers and get more competition in the squad and also to be able to play in more tournaments.”

Those efforts have produced results for Paul.

“Before we left for Borneo we had a session where we were able to run out 14 on 14 in a game of touch. Those kind of numbers were unimaginable for us a couple of years ago.”

With increasing numbers to select from, the opportunity to see them in a tournament environment is crucial.

Borneo is set to once again provide a suitably challenging warm-up for Hong Kong with sides from Belgium, Russia and across Asia participating, along with the traditional complement of top quality players from New Zealand, Australia and Europe scattered amongst the teams.

Hong Kong is in Pool B with Malaysia and an invitational side out of Australia, which is largely unknown at present but is expected to feature some solid international talent, as will the host sides Borneo and Sabah Eagles.

John will reinforce the preparation campaign for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens with hit-outs against Fiji and Wales in the event week before confirming a final 12-man squad prior to kick-off.

Hong Kong Squad: Borneo Sevens 2019

Max WOODWARD (Captain); Kane BOUCAUT; Sebastian BRIEN; Michael COVERDALE; Max DENMARK; Jamie HOOD; Cado LEE Ka-to; MAK Kwai-chung; Alex MCQUEEN; Raef MORRISON; Jack NEVILLE, Russell WEBB.