HK to blood new players in rugby tour of Europe

Sports | 12 Nov 2019

Hong Kong face Spain and Belgium in successive weekends during a rugby tour of Europe this month, with coach Andy Hall bringing a group that includes many international newcomers.

Full-back Nate de Thierry, back row Josh Dowsing and prop Tau Koloamatangi are among the players in the 30-strong squad who could make their debuts as Hong Kong kick off the next three-year cycle in preparation for qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Hong Kong play 27th-ranked Belgium on Saturday in Brussels before taking on 16th-ranked Spain on November 23 in Madrid.

De Thierry, Dowsing and Koloamatangi came through the HKRU's development partnership with Super Rugby's Waikato Chiefs.

Prop Tom Bristow, who has previously played with Northampton Saints, Wasps and Sale, and Kowloon back rower James Sawyer, are also set for their first caps. They are joined by other top Premiership players who mostly qualify through residency - lock Mark Prior, No 8 Lawrence Miller, center Guy Spanton and fly-half Gregor McNeish.

"We are looking for players that can take us through to the next World Cup," said Hall. "It is important that those players selected are in a full-time program or are performing well in the Premiership. If a player is performing well in the domestic competition but isn't in our program, it would be foolhardy not to look at them. We need to see if these players can perform at the next level."

TOURING SQUAD: Liam Slatem (captain); James Cunningham, Jamie Tsang, Dan Barlow, Tom Bristow, Tak Kolomatangi, Faizal Solomona, Jack Parfitt, Alex Post, Mitch Andrew, Mark Prior, Kyle Sullivan, Craig Lodge, Sam Tsoi, James Sawyer, Josh Dowsing, Lawrence Miller, Bryn Philips, Gregor McNeish, Matthew Rosslee, Ben Axten-Burrett, Tyler Spitz, Guy Spantan, Lewis Warner, Marcus Ramage, Seb Brien, Harry Sayers, Nathan de Thierry, Paul Altier, Toby Fenn

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