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12th March 2019

Maori All Blacks coach leads Samurai charge at GFI HKFC 10s

Bay of Plenty boss Clayton McMillan will coach a New Zealand-dominated squad at Hong Kong Football Club, where Samurai founder Terry Sands hopes to unearth “a couple more Sam Canes” after his last Kiwi squad reached the final

Maori All Blacks boss Clayton McMillan will coach Samurai International at the 34th GFI HKFC 10s (April 3-4) as the famous invitational side bid to win the Bill Burgess Cup for the first time, having reached the final in 2010, 2013 and 2016.

McMillan is head coach of Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup league and has included many of his Steamers players for the ‘World’s Best 10s’ at Hong Kong Football Club, where Samurai won the second-tier Plate last year with an all-Fijian side led by Sevens legend Nasoni Roko.

The provisional Samurai squad includes Bay of Plenty flyhalf Jason Robertson, who will be aiming to win the GFI HKFC 10s for a second successive year but with a different side, after helping Biarritz Gavekal retain the Cup last year.

Towering Samoa lock Kane Leaupepe and Tonga No. 8 Zane Kapeli are among the non-New Zealanders in the Samurai squad, while Wellington hooker James O’Reilly, a Hurricanes regular last year, and Wellington No. 8 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, in the Hurricanes Wider Training Group this year, are among the non-Steamers.

Samurai last fielded a Kiwi-dominated squad at the GFI HKFC 10s in 2010 when they had Sam Cane, the Bay of Plenty and Chiefs stalwart who has won 60 caps for the All Blacks.

“We hope to have a couple more Sam Canes in this year’s squad,” said Samurai founder Terry Sands.

As fifth seeds, Samurai are in Pool D with fourth seeds Mourant Fiji Army, captained by Isake Katonibau, who helped Fiji win the last four Hong Kong Sevens.

Irish Vikings, the 15th seeds, have recruited Jesse Houston, who played for New Zealand in the 2017-18 World Rugby Sevens Series, and Blake Barrett, younger brother of All Blacks Beauden, Scott and Jordie.

Cardiff back-rower Sam Pailor will represent Vikings for a third year, while the squad also includes three Kiwis from Hong Kong Grand Championship winners HKU Sandy Bay – forwards Lawrence Babe and Ashton Hyde and flyhalf Nik Cumming.

Biarritz Gavekal are again top seeds as they bid for a third successive Cup title, while 2018 finalists Tradition YCAC are second.

Two-time champions Grove Penguins are seeded third and will meet Asia Pacific Dragons in Pool C after the three-time champions were seeded sixth after missing last year’s event.

GFI has title sponsored the event since 2006, while other sponsors and suppliers for 2019 include Natixis (Gold Sponsor), AIA, Allied World, DHL, Q-Net and Taikoo Place (Silver Sponsors), CBRE, Latham and Watkins, and Markel (Bronze Sponsors), Kerry Hotel (Official Sponsor), Grolsch (Official Beer) and Samurai Sportswear (Official Apparel).

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 All Blacks who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup – Conrad Smith, Jerome Kaino (both 2003), Ben Smith, Charlie Faumuina (both 2008), Beauden Barrett, Sam Cane (both 2010) and Nehe Milner-Skudder (2013).

Seeds (Pool): Teams (selected highlights)

1      (A) Biarritz Gavekal (Cup winners 2017, 2018)

2      (B) Tradition YCAC (Cup runners-up 2014, 2015, 2018)

3      (C) Grove Penguins (Cup winners 2013, 2016)

4      (D) Mourant Fiji Army (Debut 2019)

5      (D) Samurai International (Cup runners-up 2010, 2013, 2016)

6      (C) Asia Pacific Dragons (Cup winners 2012, 2014, 2015)

7      (B) A-Trade Overseas Old Boys (Plate winners 2016; Plate runners-up 2018)

8      (A) Kir Club Pyrenees (Cup semis 2009; Plate winners 2017)

9      (A) Projecx Waterboys (Plate semis 2016, 2017, 2018)

10   (B) Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles (Cup semis 2015; Bowl winners 2018)

11   (C) Classic Wallabies (Bowl semis 2017, 2018)

12   (D) Hunter and Boo East Africans (Bowl runners-up 2018)

13   (D) Tiger Rugby (Bowl semis 2018)

14   (C) Natixis HKFC (Shield Winners 2012, 2016, 2018)

15   (B) Irish Vikings (Bowl runners-up 2009, 2017; Shield winners 2010, 2013)

16   (A) Shanghai RFC Silver Dragons (Shield winners 2017)



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