Hong Kong ring changes ahead of Japan in Week 2 of the Asia Rugby Championship

30 April, 2015

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Hong Kong will field a new front row as well as two debutant forwards as they face the daunting task of stopping the Japan juggernaut in their second match in the Asia Rugby Championship in Tokyo on Saturday.

A rotation policy has resulted in Hong Kong head coach Andy Hall fielding a changed front row from that which figured in the 33-26 defeat at the hands of South Korea in the opening game last week.

Loosehead prop Leon Wei Hon-sum, hooker Alex Harris and tighthead Jack Parfitt will start while the rest of the tight five will comprise lock forwards Paul Dwyer and Adam Butterfield, who wins his first cap.

It will be a tough debut for Hong Kong-born Butterfield who has come through the age groups and has had a trial with English Premiership team Saracens before returning home.

"This will be a massive step up for Adam but I'm confident that in the company of an experienced campaigner like Paul Dwyer he'll come through with flying colours," said Hall.

The other debutant is back rower Damian Bailey, who will start on the bench. Bailey and Butterfield are among six changes made to the squad that struggled in the first half against Korea and although the challenge will be harder this time around, Hall is hoping for an improved performance.

"We played poorly against Korea and I'm looking for a much-improved performance this week. We are under no illusions that Japan will be a steep obstacle but we are not going there simply to give them a training run," Hall said.

The re-jigged front row and the forward pack will have to be at their best to prevent seven-time Asian Five Nations champions Japan from continuing their unbeaten streak in recent years.

Skipper Nick Hewson and flankers Matt Lamming and Toby Fenn, who made his debut last week, will need to excel to prevent the Japanese from getting into a smooth rhythm.

Hall has also made a crucial change at flyhalf with Ben Rimene coming in for Chris McAdam. Rimene will partner scrumhalf Cado Lee Ka-to who had an impressive game against Korea.

"Ben (Rimene) has come back from injury and this will be a good opportunity for him," said Hall.

The rest of the backline will see Charlie Higson-Smith, another debutant last week, start for the first time after he replaced winger Salom Yiu Kam-shing on the left flank while Jamie Hood comes in at outside centre in place of the injured Tyler Spitz.

Hood and fellow centre Max Woodward will have their hands full trying to stop the rampaging Japanese backs but along with the McQueen brothers, winger Tom and fullback Alex, Hong Kong is expected to put up a brave front.

The bench will comprise of front-rowers – Lachlan Chubb, John Aikman and Jack Nielsen, with Bailey and Alex Baddeley providing cover for the back row. The backs cover will be Adam Rolston, Jonny Rees and Niall Rowark.

Japan, who defeated South Korea 56-30, a fortnight ago in Incheon, head the standings.

Hong Kong squad v Japan, 2 May 2015:

1 WEI Hon Sum Leon (Valley); 2 Alex HARRIS (Kowloon); 3 Jack PARFITT (HKS); 4 Adam BUTTERFIELD (HKFC); 5 Paul DWYER (HKCC); 6 Matthew LAMMING (HKCC); 7 Toby FENN (Valley); 8 Nicholas HEWSON (Valley); 9 LEE Ka To Cado (Kowloon); 10 Ben RIMENE (Valley); 11 Charlie HIGSON-SMITH (HKFC); 12 Max WOODWARD (Valley); 13 Jamie HOOD (HKFC); 14 Tom MCQUEEN (HKCC); 15 Alex MCQUEEN (HKCC); 16 John AIKMAN (HKS); 17 Lachlan CHUBB (HKS); 18 Jack NIELSEN (HKCC); 19 Alex BADDELEY (Valley); 20 Damian BAILEY (HKCC); 21 Adam ROLSTON (Valley); 22 Jonny REES (HKFC); 23 Niall ROWARK (HKFC); 24 Jack DELAFORCE (HKCC)