16 Nov 2015

Coach Andrew Hall has made several changes ahead of Hong Kong’s first ever fifteens test versus Portugal tomorrow in the Cup of Nations (kick-off 19.00). Russia will take on Zimbabwe in the opening test (kick-off 16.00).

While a few of the changes are injury-enforced, Hall is primarily looking to freshen his squad for what is expected to be a grueling test against Portugal, whose forwards are looking particularly impressive.

“Portugal look to have the toughest pack in the competition. For the first hour of their game they dominated what is a very large and skillful Russian eight, so negating that advantage is going to be a big focus for us,” Hall said.

“We know our backs can do their thing but we need to get them the ball in good positions and going forward. Winning the ball against Portugal is going to be a significant step up for us from the opening match with Zimbabwe,” added Hall.

Prop Adam Fullgrabe and No.8 Dan Falvey will be an important part of Hall’s plans to control possession. The two mark Hong Kong’s ninth and tenth new players capped over the opening two rounds as they come into the starting fifteen, replacing Rohan Cook and flanker Matt Lamming, who both suffered slight knocks in the opening test, a 30-11 win over Zimbabwe on Friday.

“It’s a special day for those two and I am excited that we have now been able to expose ten new players to international rugby across two matches,” said Hall.

Fullgrabe and Jack Parfitt will anchor Alex Harris in the front row while Hong Kong Football Club’s Adam Butterfield comes in at lock, in partnership with Adrian Griffiths, who retains his spot from the opener.Captain Nick Hewson moves to six to make room for Falvey at No.8, while fireplug flanker Toby Fenn gets his first start of the series.

Two of Hong Kong’s sevens athletes will also get a run following the completion of the Asia Rugby Sevens Qualifiers. Lee Ka To gets the start at scrumhalf, pushing Tom Marshall who had a solid debut against Zimbabwe to the bench.Ben Rimene earns his second straight start at fly-half while Hall has also kept faith in his centres combination of Lex Kaleca and Tyler Spitz.

Barnstorming sevens winger Tom McQueen comes in on the right side with Charles Higson-Smith shifting to the left side, filling Brad Raper’s spot from the opening match.Ed Rolston retains the fullback jersey from the first match.

Alex Ng Wai Shing, Jamie Pincott and Jamie Tsang provide the front row back-up, with lock Jack Delaforce joining Hong Kong Cricket Club teammate and flanker Moses Bailey on the bench in another five-three, forwards-backs split. Flyhalf Niall Rowark joins utility back Jamie Robinson and scrumhalf Marshall as the backline reserves.

“It is great to have introduced so many new players to the squad in this competition. I think it shows some of the depth we are building in key positions like the front row, but it also enhances the competition for places within the squad as a whole,” Hall said.

“It’s also nice to have a couple of the sevens players joining us. They help lift the energy in the squad and will strengthen our options heading into the final two games.

“We know that Portugal are going to pose some tough questions and we are preparing for that but we are keen to back up Friday’s night’s result with not only a win but also a more complete performance,
concluded Hall.

Hong Kong Squad v Portugal:

1. Adam FULLGRABE (Kowloon)*, 2. Alex HARRIS (Kowloon), 3. Jack PARFITT (HK Scottish), 4. Adam BUTTERFIELD (HKFC), 5. Adrian GRIFFITHS (HKCC), 6. Nick HEWSON (Captain, Valley), 7. Toby FENN (Valley), 8. Dan Falvey (HKFC)*, 9. LEE Ka To Cado (USRC Tigers), 10. Ben RIMENE (Valley), 11. Charles HIGSON-SMITH (HKFC), 12. Lex KALECA (HK Scottish), 13. Tyler SPITZ (USRC Tigers), 14. Tom McQUEEN (HKCC), 15. Edmund ROLSTON (Valley). RESERVES BENCH: 16. Alex NG Wai Shing (Valley), 17. Jamie TSANG (Kowloon), 18. Jamie PINCOTT (HKS), 19. Jack DELAFORCE (HKCC), 20. Moses BAILEY (HKCC), 21. Tom MARSHALL (HKCC), 22. Niall ROWARK, 23. Jamie ROBINSON (HKCC)

* New caps.