Penguins draft All Blacks Sevens quartet for Cup defence
USA flyhalf Shalom Suniula is among the returning stars for Penguins at the GFI HKFC 10s (April 5-6). Photo: Power Sport Images for HKFC.
New Zealand Sevens stars Joe Webber, Lewis Ormond, Tone Ng Shiu and Teddy Stanaway will join Penguins in Hong Kong, where England Sevens flier Callum Sirker will also help the club’s bid for a third Cup title in five years
Hong Kong; March 31, 2017: Penguin International will field four current and recent New Zealand Sevens players when the UK-based touring and coaching club defend their title at next week’s GFI HKFC 10s, which will be held on the Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens.
The Penguins start with Pool A matches against eighth seeds Projecx Waterboys of Scotland, an Irish Vikings squad with three England Sevens Academy players, and Devil’s Advocate Silver Dragons (SRFC and SUS) from Shanghai.
In their 11th straight appearance at the GFI HKFC 10s, Penguins are seeking to win the Bill Burgess Cup for the third time in five years and have retained a handful of last year’s players in a squad typically dominated by Kiwis.
The hot-stepping Joe Webber, flanker Tone Ng Shiu and wing Lewis Ormond are all contracted New Zealand Sevens players for the 2016-17 World Rugby Seven Series, while Bay of Plenty centre Teddy Stanaway played on the 2015-16 circuit, and the quartet will provide plenty of firepower for Penguins.
Callum Sirker – who turns 19 on the opening day of the GFI HKFC 10s – joined England Sevens this season and is another speedster in the Penguins squad at Hong Kong Football Club.
Kiwi flanker Johan Bardoul, who played Super Rugby for Chiefs for the past two years, makes a comeback after representing Penguins in the 2014 GFI HKFC 10s.
Burly 115kg prop Tau Koloamatangi, who played for New Zealand at the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2014 and 2015, helped Valley win this year’s Hong Kong Premiership, while Bay of Plenty No. 8 Jesse Parete and North Harbour flanker Hapakuki Moala-Liava’a, 20, are also part of an impressive group of forwards.
Richmond captain Will Warden and Canada hooker Eric Howard, fresh from this year’s Americas Rugby Championship, join the newcomers up front.
Among the familiar faces, hooker Gafa Su’a is back for a third straight year, while other returning players include Bay of Plenty centre Lalakai Foketi and Samoa-born Shalom Suniula, the USA 15s and sevens flyhalf.
Penguins have again opted for a two-pronged coaching attack as former New Zealand Maori flyhalf Willie Walker returns and this time links up with Steve Hill, Director of Rugby at Richmond in England, who takes charge of the forwards.
Walker, who played for Highlanders, Gloucester and Worcester, last played for Penguins at the GFI HKFC 10s in 2015, but last year revelled in a coaching role alongside Scott Waldrom and will again look after the backs.
Pool B features three-time runners-up Mourant Ozannes Samurai International, Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, UBB Gavekal – who have four contracted Fiji Sevens players – and CRFA Gladiators from China.
Pool C comprises Hogan Lovells Asia Pacific Dragons, champions in 2012, 2014 and 2015, reigning Plate winners A-Trade Overseas Old Boys, Australian side King’s College at UQ - sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance, and hosts Natixis HKFC.
Two-time runners-up Tradition YCAC, debutants Classic Wallabies, Kir Club Pyrenees of France and GoCloudWifi East Africans form an exciting line-up in Pool D.
On day two, the event divides into Cup and Bowl quarter-finals, then splits into four sets of semi-finals: Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield.
The GFI HKFC 10s is broadcast live on the official website (www.hongkongtens.com) and YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/hkfc10s). Host broadcaster Now TV will also show live action on April 5 (1.40pm-9.00pm) and April 6 (3.00pm-8.30pm) on Now Sports Prime (Channel 600) and Now Sports 5 (Channel 635).
Tickets are available at Ticketflap (www.ticketflap.com/gfi2017), including ‘Early Bird’ offers for two days of rugby (HK$150) and the After Party (HK$250). All ticket receipts and onsite donations will be given to the two official charities: The Umbrella Foundation (Nepal) and Khelo Rugby (India).
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 Allied World and Natixis (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), Tsunami Sport (official apparel), Regal Hongkong Hotel (official hotel) and CUHK Sports Medicine (medical support).
For more information, visit:
Website: www.hongkongtens.com (live streaming)
YouTube: www.youtube.com/hkfc10s (live streaming)