Tigers excited to kick off new era

Sports | 29 Mar 2019

Rugby fever starts in Hong Kong today as the FWD South China Tigers and favorites Western Force kick off the inaugural Global Rapid Rugby Showcase Series in Perth.

Eleven Hong Kong internationals and nine players from the domestic Premiership are in the first Tigers squad announced by head coach Craig Hammond for the match against Western Force.

The game comes ahead of a busy week for rugby here, which will be capped by the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on April 5-7.

"It's a great opportunity and hugely exciting," Hammond said."We talked about it happening last year and it was miles away then; now it's come around pretty quick and there's been a great buzz around our training."

Lock James Cunningham will lead the Tigers with co-captain and scrum-half Liam Slatem excused from the opener after celebrating the arrival of a baby this week.

Former New Zealand U20s prop Tau Kolomatangi earns the start at loose head, paired with hooker Alex Post and ex-Super Rugby prop Grant Kemp. Lock Fin Field joins Callum McCullough in the second row while Cunningham anchors the back with domestic Premiership club captains Josh Dowsing and No 8 Josh Hrstich.

Scrum-half Bryn Phillips gets the start, paired with former Northampton and Wasps player Glyn Hughes at fly-half. Matt Rosslee and Lewis Warner start in the centers with Ma Chong starting on the wing. Ma joins full-back Nathan De Thierry and the UK Premiership's all-time leading try scorer, Tom Varndell.

Front rowers Mitch Andrews, Callum McFeat-Smith and Jack Parfitt are reserves, with Mike Parfitt and James Sawyer backing up the forwards. Scrum-half Ruan Duplooy joins center Tom Hill and Fijian strike-man Samisoni Viriviri as backs reserves.

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