12 Aug 2017

The Hong Kong Rugby Union has named the squad for its second match at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland. After opening the championship against the 2013 runners-up, Canada (ranked third in the world), Hong Kong will now play New Zealand – ranked second in the world, tomorrow (kick-off at 19.00 Hong Kong time).

National coach Jo Hull has made several changes to the squad, with Royce Chan Leong-sze starting at hooker and Christine Gordon starting at No.8 in an effort to prevent New Zealand fromestablishing too much momentum in the forwards.

Changes in the backline see‘BB’ Lee Tsz-ting start at fly-half with emerging star Kelsie Bouttle getting her first start at centre and Lau Sze-wa coming in at full-back. The changes are a part of Hull’s strategy to manage the load of the Rugby World Cup with Hong Kong’s opening match coming just days prior.

“We have four games just as hard as Canada, so the selection reflects the need to use all of the squad to manage that. Part of it is managing the player requirement, but also getting selection right for New Zealand.

“We’ve gone with the team that we think gives us the best chance to halt their momentum. Defensively, we have some strong players on the pitch and are asking our stalwarts to get amongst them.At the same time, we’ve gone with BB [Lee Tsz-ting] at 10 because she gives us a nice attacking option. If we have ball in hand we want to play some attractive rugby,” Hull said.

Hong Kong will have to dig deep to fend off a New Zealand team that was slow out of the blocks against Wales in an eventual 44-12 win.

“Our tackling must improve. We have got to get them to ground quickly and stop them from building any momentum. We gave Canada too much time with the ball. You can only hold out so long defensively if you are letting your opponents generate all of the momentum.

“Canada had big, world-class athletes and you can’t give them space with the ball.It will be more of the same against New Zealand and I actually expect them to be tougher than Canada. They will have found their stride after that first game against Wales.

“New Zealand are a seasoned side,so I’m expecting them to be at another level.They are more clinical than Canada. We forced 11 errors against Canada. New Zealand won’t allow that,” Hull added.

Hull’s side is aware of the challenge but eager to front up again on the world stage.

“We’re feeling positive and excited to play New Zealand. We’ve had two testsagainst non-Asian opponents in our history and now we’re playing the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams in the worldwithin the space of a week. For the 23rd ranked team in the world it’s a huge honour and a real positive for us.

“There’s a lot of pride in the locker room over our spirited performance against Canada, but we aren’t satisfied with how we played. We take heart from our performance, but we know we still have a lot to improve on.

“Mentally we’re in a good place. We’re not okay with losing 98-0 and personal accountability in our performance is hugely important and has to improve. That’s the challenge for us over the next few days.”

Hull said her team is thrilled by the experience of being at the World Cup and has been buoyed by strong support from a large contingent of travelling fans as well as the neutrals inside the stadium.

“It’s been incredible. The team has been touched by the support we’ve received. Support from the crowd really lifted our performance against Canada. Even at 70 minutes, we were attacking, lifted by the crowd, through what was a rough 80 minutes. We need that to continue over the coming days.

“Some real positives are emerging. We showed warrior toughness against Canada, but it’s not good enoughto leave it at that. We have to back that up now. We need a better performance than last week and against another world-class team,” Hull added.

HKRU Squad versus New Zealand:

Forwards:1. LAU Nga-wun, Tammy; 2. CHAN Leong-sze, Royce; 3 WONG Yuen-shan; 4. CHOW Mei-nam (captain); 5. TSANG Sin-yan; 6. Amelie SEURE; 7. Winnie SIU; 8. Christine GORDON. Backs: 9. Jessica HO Wai-on; 10. LEE Tsz-ting 11. CHONG Ka-yan; 12. Kelsie BOUTTLE; 13. Natasha OLSON-THORNE; 14. Laurel CHOR Lik-fung; 15. LAU Sze-wah. Reserves: 16. HO Hoi-lam; 17. LEE Ka-shun; 18. PUN Wai-yan; 19. CHENG Ka-chi, Christy; 20. CHAN Ka-yan; 21. Lindsay VARTY; 22. Rose HOPEWELL-FONG Siu-lan; 23. Colleen TJOSVOLD