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3rd April 2017

Meyer, Hendricks head Springbok influence on Asia Pacific Dragons

Heyneke Meyer has two Springboks in his five-man coaching team, while South Africa wing Cornal Hendricks and former All Blacks lock Isaac Ross feature in a strong squad as Hogan Lovells APDs seek to add to their three Cup wins under Tana Umaga  

Hong Kong; April 3, 2017: Heyneke Meyer has been charged with leading the Hogan Lovells Asia Pacific Dragons back to winning ways at this week’s GFI HKFC 10s as the former Springbok coach follows in the footsteps of David Campese (2011), three-time winner Tana Umaga (2012-15) and Reuben Parkinson (2016).

Meyer, 49, was at Bulls and Leicester before coaching South Africa from 2012 through the 2015 Rugby World Cup, then linked up with the Asia Pacific Dragons at last year’s World Club 10s organised by Hong Kong-based Carinat, also organiser of the APDs.

Meyer’s four assistant coaches in Hong Kong include Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 38, and Derick Hougaard, 34, both former Springbok flyhalves and 2003 Rugby World Cup teammates. Tonga icon Hale T-Pole – who played his second World Cup in 2015 – is assistant coach for a third year, having played for the APDs in their first four appearances at the 10s, while Fiji’s Zac Labalaba is back for a second year.

Meyer, who later this week will attend the Hong Kong Sevens, is excited to be involved with the GFI HKFC 10s for the first time and happy to bring a South African influence to a side traditionally made up of players and coaches from the Asia-Pacific.

It’s an honour to be involved in the 10s as I’ve heard a lot of about it. Although it’s invitational sides, every single year it’s got stronger and stronger. APDs started off quite well, but everyone lifted their game so now it’s a very, very good competition and we know it’ll be tough,” Meyer said.

Jaco will look after the backs as he’s looking to get into coaching and I think he’ll be a very good coach in the future. Derick will help me a little more with the defence. It’s great to have these guys around as I want to use these tournaments to upskill coaches.

“We’ve only got two days to prepare, but that’s also the nice thing about it. I think it’s going to be a great tournament. What I like about this event is the spirit of rugby and because you have players from different backgrounds in an invitational side.”

Springbok wing Cornal Hendricks features in the squad, which also includes players from Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa. The APDs trained twice on Monday, after conducting a junior clinic on Sunday for Tung Chung Rugby Club.

Hendricks, 28, played on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for three years then earned 12 caps for the Springboks in 2014 and 2015 while playing Super Rugby for Cheetahs before a heart condition curtailed his pro career.

“My condition is a thing of the past. I’m looking forward now to focusing on my career. I’m so happy that Heyneke called me to see if I was interested to play in the 10s and I’m happy to be on the pitch again. My fitness is good, so I’m excited to start the tournament,” said Hendricks, who played in the Hong Kong Sevens twice.

“This is actually my first time playing 10s so I’m very excited to run on the pitch on Wednesday. I played sevens for three years so I have experience of analysing or picking the space quickly, and I have a 15s background, so I’m going to combine the two and get into it.”

Isaac Ross, 32, captained the APDs last year and the 6-foot 7-inch former All Blacks lock brings back his experience of playing Super Rugby for Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs, then in Japan with NTT Shining Arcs since 2011.

Others with international experience include Wellington flanker Greg Foe, who represented Samoa at U20 level and in Sevens, and captained Samoa A before making his Test debut against Fiji last year, since winning four more caps. Auckland flyhalf Latiume Fosita, 24, who has played for Tonga since 2013 and featured in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, including a start against New Zealand.

The APDs, champions in 2012, 2014 and 2015, will face reigning Plate champions A-Trade Overseas Old Boys, Australian side King’s College at UQ - sponsored by Strategic Equity Alliance, and hosts Natixis HKFC in Pool C on Wednesday.

Pool A features defending champions Penguin International, 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.

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 D comprises two-time runners-up Tradition YCAC, debutants Classic Wallabies, Kir Club Pyrenees of France and GoCloudWifi East Africans.

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 APDs have been among the event’s most high-profile sides since their debut in 2011 when Wallaby legend George Gregan skippered a squad featuring Justin Marshall, Christian Cullen, Rico Gear and MVP Viliame Satala to the final. Marshall, New Zealand’s most-capped scrumhalf, George Smith, rugby’s second-most capped flanker, and long-time Tonga captain Nili Latu were the respective winning captains in 2012, 2014 and 2015. 

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)

Facebook:        www.facebook.com/HKFC10s (live streaming)

Twitter:             https://twitter.com/GFIHKFC10s

Instagram:        www.instagram.com/gfihkfc10s

Hashtag:          #HK10s

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