HONG KONG OUT TO GAUGE IMPROVEMENT AGAINST JAPAN

Alex Ng Wai Shing set to become Hong Kong’s most capped player post-1997

26 May 2016

Alex Ng Wai Shing is set to become Hong Kong’s most capped player in the post-handover era if he sees action in his side’s Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) match against Japan in Tokyo this Saturday.

It is an impressive achievement for the long-serving prop, who didn’t start playing rugby until his last year of high school and even then only played because his school side was short.

Born in Hong Kong, Ng spent a number of years studying in Scotland before returning home at the age of 18.The 28-year-old played his first test against Tunisia in Tunisia in 2008 and this week’s match will be number 42, taking him past fellow front row warrior Pete Spizzeri as the player with the most caps since 1997.

“I don’t really know what to say about it to be honest, it’s not something I have focused on or set out to do. I just enjoy playing every game I can,” Ng said.

A third prop, Dave Lewis is the most capped player overall for Hong Kong with 55 and Ng, a personal trainer in his spare time, hopes to one day pass that mark.

“Hopefully I can go for four of five more years,” he said.“The teams I have played with, they are always a good bunch of boys. I really enjoy playing for Hong Kong and I am always learning. When I play for Hong Kong I always learn a lot more as there are more opportunities to play at a high intensity than at club level.”

Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones praised the work of Ng, describing him as a popular squad member. “I’m delighted for Alex,” Jones said. “The fact that he is a local lad as well, I think its great for rugby and great for the localization of the game in Hong Kong.”

Jones has made a host of changes for the match, with 10 changes to the starting 15 that defeated South Korea two weeks ago.The changes come on the back of some niggling injuries sustained by the squad against South Korea, while a number of players have returned to fitness.

Prop Ben Higgins and centres Ed Rolston and Tyler Spitz play their first games of the series after recovering from injuries sustained in the warm-up match against the Chiefs development squad.Flanker Matt Lamming and winger Rowan Varty are also making their first appearances of the ARC. Those missing from the side that started against South Korea include Toby Fenn, Rohan Cook, Paul Dwyer, Jamie Hood and Salom Yiu Kam Shing.

“We picked up a number of injuries coming out of the Chiefs weekend so its great to get some of those guys back fit,” Jones said.“Also we picked up a few injuries last game against Korea so a few have been rested with a view to the return against Korea (4 June).”

Rolston will captain the side in the early stages, with usual skipper Nick Hewson starting from the bench, combining in centre with Spitz in place of Lex Kaleca and Jamie Robinson.

“Going into the Chiefs game I was really excited about that combination,” Jones said. “Both picked up injuries during the Chiefs game unfortunately so it will be good to see those players in action. That’s quite exciting. Lamming at seven is another exciting choice. I know he’s champing at the bit. I think he will come in and do a great job.”

Continuing a familiar trend for Hong Kong in this year’s Asian championship, Jones highlighted the scrum and breakdown as key areas on Saturday, admitting he liked what he saw last time out against South Korea.He is hoping that the hard work his charges have put in over the past three weeks will see them go a lot closer to Japan than in their last meeting, which ended in a 38-3 loss.

“It’s always good to see how much you’ve progressed,” Jones said.“You generally improve from the start of the competition to the end of the competition. How much, we will know on Saturday.”

Hong Kong are still searching for their best tight-five combination and with only Adrian Griffiths remaining from their last hit out, Jones will get a look at a different unit.He is hopeful the group will improve from within over time, while also being able to stand up in the coming two rounds.

“We are pretty much working with the same personnel so it’s just about making that personnel better over coming months, over coming seasons,” Jones said.“That’s going to take time. We’ve just got to try and shore things up for the short term and the selections we have made is with that in mind.”

Japan fielded a young side against South Korea last weekend, resting a number of their key playmakers but still turning in a nine-try, 60-3 win over Korea.

“It was interesting to see Japan make so many changes against Korea last week. They took a very, very young side. It was a side I wouldn’t have minded playing against at the time, but the result proves it’s still business as usual for Japan,” Jones said.

Hong Kong Squad v Japan (28 May):

1. Ben HIGGINS, 2. Lachlan CHUBB, 3. Jack PARFITT, 4. Jack DELAFORCE, 5. Adrian GRIFFITHS, 6. James CUNNINGHAM, 7. Matt LAMMING, 8. Dan FALVEY, 9. Cado LEE Ka To 10. Ben RIMENE, 11. Rowan VARTY, 12. Tyler SPITZ, 13. Edmund ROLSTON, 14. Ryan MEACHEAM, 15. Alex MCQUEEN, 16. Adam FULLGRABE, 17. Jamie TSANG, 18. Alex NG Wai-Shing, 19. Nick HEWSON, 20. Tony WONG Ho Yeung, 21. Adam ROLSTON, 22. Niall ROWARK, 23. Jamie ROBINSON.

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