Samurai recruit Super League’s fastest man in their bid for debut title
Penguins have added former All Black Rico Gear and American rugby stalwart Todd Clever to a fearsome squad looking to make amends for last year’s disappointing outing at the Hong Kong Football Club.
The 30th edition of the GFI HKFC Tens will be held at Hong Kong Football Club from 25-26th March 2015.
The Penguins, seeded fourth, will be looking to the experienced Gear and former USA Eagles captain Clever to spearhead their challenge, alongside a host of youthful talent from New Zealand.
Gear, 37, is making his second appearance at the GFI HKFC Tens and the prodigious try-scorer is sure to be a handful for any opposition.
“I’ve played the Hong Kong tens before and it’s a superb tournament,” said Gear. “The quality of the rugby in the Cup competition is fantastic. Given I’m one of the senior players in the squad; I’ll be looking to the young fliers to do all the running whilst Todd and I pull the strings. With our experience and fire-power, we’re looking to go all the way to the title this year.”
Also capped by New Zealand Maori, Gear scored 11 tries in 19 appearances for the All Blacks and still holds the record for most tries in a Super Rugby season with 15 for the all-conquering Crusaders in 2005.
Gear, whose brother Hosea is also an All Black, was a devastating exponent of the short-format game and was a key part of the gold medal-winning All Black team at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Clever has already tasted victory at the GFI HKFC Tens as part of the victorious Asia Pacific Barbarians team which stormed to victory in 2012.
The 32 year-old played 63 times for the USA, captaining the team in both the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. Voted American player of the decade, the versatile flanker also represented the USA Sevens team in 24 competitions across a stellar career.
This year’s third seeds, Samurai, have recruited rugby league convert Omari Caro, England Sevens scrum-half Jack Walsh and Tongan international Vili Fainga’a as they look to end a title drought which includes two
heart-breaking defeats in the Finals over the past five years.
Jamaican-born Caro won the Super League’s Fastest Man title in 2012, with a time of 10.28 seconds for 90 metres and is sure to revel in the open spaces of the Hong Kong Football Club pitch. The 24-year old has played rugby league for Jamaica and Super League team London Broncos, but the GFI HKFC Tens will be his first rugby union tournament.
Twenty-Two year old Walsh featured in the England’s sevens team at last year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and the young scum half will be looking to impress a the GFI HKFC 10s in an effort to force his way back into consideration.
Fainga’a, 27, is the younger brother of Wallaby twins Anthony and Saia. Although his siblings have both played for Australia, Vili opted to play for Tonga and has been capped in both the fifteen and seven-a-side format.
PNG Crocs have withdrawn from the tournament and will be replaced by Shandong.
This year’s tournament will be broadcast live on NowTV channel 634 and streamed live on the internet for the first time.
The Nesbitt Centre is this year’s affiliated charity and will receive all proceeds from the HK$100 entrance fee for the second day of the tournament, as well as on-site donations.
The tournament offers free entry on the opening day, Wednesday March 25th.
Sixteen teams will compete in four round-robin pools on Day One of the GFI HKFC Tens before progressing into the Cup, Plate, Bowl, and Shield competitions on Day Two.
As well as attracting past and present stars of rugby, fans will also be able to catch a glimpse of future greats with many young up-and-coming players now using the GFI HKFC Tens as a high-quality tournament to showcase their rugby skills.
GFI Group return for their 10th year as title sponsor of the GFI HKFC Tens and will be joined by fellow sponsors, Allied World, DHL, Swire Properties, Q-Net, Natixis and Fosters.
Since GFI came on board as title sponsor, the tournament has attracted rugby legends Joe Roff and Toutai Kefu (both 2006), Jonah Lomu (2007), Brian Lima (2008), Bobby Skinstad (2009), Waisale Serevi (2010), George Gregan and Christian Cullen (2011), Mils Muliaina (2012) Justin Marshall (2011 and 2012), and last year’s wining captain, George Smith.
Now in its 30th year, the GFI HKFC Tens is sanctioned by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and is held on the Wednesday and Thursday before the world-famous Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.