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22th Feburary 2017

Star-studded Classic Wallabies join 2017 GFI HKFC 10s!

Radike Samo could return to the GFI HKFC 10s with the Classic Wallabies, having won the Bill Burgess Cup with Asia Pacific Dragons in 2014. Photo: Power Sport Images for HKFC.

A Classic Wallabies squad boosted by Australia Sevens and U20 players will challenge the likes of The Penguins, Samurai, Asia Pacific Dragons and Tradition YCAC at Hong Kong Football Club

A star-studded Classic Wallabies team will make their tournament debut at the 32nd GFI HKFC 10s, which will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from April 5-6.

In a bid to challenge the top teams at the 10-a-side curtain raiser to the Hong Kong Sevens, the squad will also include Australia Sevens players and Australia U20s.

Justin Harrison, who played second row for Australia, Brumbies, Waratahs, Ulster and Bath, will coach the Classic Wallabies.

Legendary lock Nathan Sharpe, who won 116 caps from 2002-12, giant wingers Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor, and towering forward Radike Samo – a 10s champion with the Asia Pacific Dragons in 2014 – are among former Wallabies under consideration.

Tuqiri captained the Classic Wallabies in their exhibition game against the Famous Fijians at this month’s Sydney Sevens, while hooker Adam Freier, centres Morgan Turinui and Lachlan Mackay, and scrumhalf Patrick Phibbs are also in the running for the GFI HKFC 10s.

Stephen Hoiles, who manages the Classic Wallabies for the Australian Rugby Union, has confirmed that he will be among the playing staff in Hong Kong and said further players will be confirmed soon.

“We know it’s a really high standard of rugby at the GFI HKFC 10s so we’ve got some great Wallabies coming over and we’re recruiting some Sevens players and U20s to help us compete. We’re not coming over just to make up the numbers,” said Hoiles, 35, who represented Australia from 2004 to 2008.

“I was actually asked to play in the 10s last year and was over in Hong Kong for the Sevens, so it’ll be my second time there and I know Radike Samo has played the 10s before and won. We should have a strong squad.”

The Australian Rugby Foundation’s Hong Kong chapter will also be launched while the Classic Wallabies are in the city, which is proving an exciting new option for a team that were a regular feature at the World Rugby Classic in Bermuda.

“The Classic Wallabies often played in Bermuda, but it’s a really long trip and after a while we couldn’t really do it justice and send enough Wallabies,” said Hoiles, who finished his Super Rugby career with the Waratahs in 2014.

“Everyone’s excited about playing in Hong Kong and watching the Sevens afterwards, and we’ll be using the opportunity to launch the Australian Rugby Foundation. I think the team will be a big drawcard for the Australian expat community there, so we should have some good support at Hong Kong Football Club.”

Classic Wallabies will join at least 14 teams returning from last year’s GFI HKFC 10s, including defending champions Penguin International, 2016 runners-up Samurai International, three-time champions Hogan Lovells Asia Pacific Dragons and two-time finalists Tradition YCAC.

A-Trade Overseas Old Boys, Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, Projecx Waterboys, King’s College at UQ, Kir Club Pyrenees, UBB Gavekal, Irish Vikings, GFI East Africans, Shanghai RFC and hosts Natixis HKFC also return. The final team in the 16-team tournament will be confirmed soon.

Inaugurated in 1986 to celebrate Hong Kong Football Club’s centenary, the GFI HKFC 10s has long attracted the game’s top players including seven of the New Zealand team who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup – Conrad Smith, Jerome Kaino, Ben Smith, Beauden Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Sam Cane and Charlie Faumuina.

Along with GFI, other sponsors in 2017 include Natixis and Allied World (gold sponsors), BT/Riverbed, DHL, Q-Net, Swire Properties/Taikoo Place and Withers (silver), CBRE, CPA Global, EY, Markel and Tricor (bronze), Pure Blonde (official beer), Home Alimental (official water) and Tsunami Sport (official apparel).

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