16 Nov 2018

Jo Hull, Hong Kong coach and General Manager of Women’s Performance Rugby at the HKRU, has announced the squad to face off against Wales tonight [0300 HK time] at Cardiff Arms Park in the second match of the two-test Autumn tour.

Taking on test sides ranked far higher and with significantly more experience, a Hong Kong squad featuring several new caps dropped the opening test against Spain by a healthy margin last week.

Needing to expose a group of 14 new caps to international rugby, Hull has kept the squad largely intact from the first test to the second, with a few tweaks.

Centre Grace Hood starts in place of Sarah Lucas, whom she replaced at half-time in Alicante.  Lucas moves to the bench for the start of the match.  Hong Kong sevens phenomenon Stephanie Chan will get her first start for Hong Kong at full-back, while U20s star Jessica Eden earns her first cap for Hong Kong on the wing. New prop Debby Lam Ka-wai has been named to the bench and is likely to see her first action on tour against the Welsh. Flanker Pun Wai-yan comes in for Maggie Au Yeung who moves to the opposite flank, pushing Winnie Siu to the bench. Experienced scrum half Sham Wai-sum has also been called up on the bench for Wales, along with utility back Lau Sze-wa.

For Hull, the measure of success lies in how much improvement the side shows from game one to two.

“The challenge we have set for the team is that we must see improvement from game to game. The whole purpose of this trip is to improve. This is year one of our three year journey for 2021 [Women’s Rugby World Cup] qualification and even, in the bigger picture, 2025.

“This is the group and this is the first step. By playing these teams, the players will get invaluable experience and exposure at this level. We need to expose them as much as possible before 2021 and 2025.”

Hull is under no illusions that the difficulty level is increasing in Wales, ranked ninth in the world entering tonight’s clash.

“Looking at the Spain game, it really was a huge defensive effort from us. The key areas we were lacking in were our set piece and being able to get ahold of the ball initially, and then keep ahold of it and keep that possession.

“We were defending from the start of the game, so our defence has again been a focus for us ahead of Wales. They are a very strong and physical team.

“The breakdown is going to be important for us in terms of being able to stop them from gaining momentum. So we have been looking at our scrum and lineout a lot this week and we need to see significant improvement there.

“It is difficult to play rugby if we are missing a lot of tackles, as we did in Spain. The big challenge is to match their physicality and make sure they don’t run away with the game or build too much momentum early on and not to let them bully us.

“We felt the subs did well against Spain, so it is reassuring to see that we are starting to develop a bench that can add impact to the game,” Hull added.

Hong Kong squad for Wales Test (Cardiff Arms Park, Wales, 16 Nov 2018)

1. LAU Nga-Wun, 2. Dr Karen SO (captain), 3. YIP Cho-kwan, 4. CHAN Ka-yan, 5. TSANG Ching-man, 6. PUN Wai-yan, 7. Maggie AU YEUNG, 8. Melody LI (vice captain), 9. Jessica HO, 10. CHENG Lok-tung, 11. CHONG Ka-yan, 12. Grace HOOD, 13. Natasha OLSON-THORNE (vice captain), 14. Jessica EDEN, 15. Stephanie CHAN, 16. Charlotte MYRANS, 17. Vincci LEUNG, 18. LAM Ka-wai, 19. Amber CHAN, 20. Winnie SIU, 21. SHAM Wai-sum, 22. Sarah LUCAS 23. LAU Sze-wa.