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Tonga No. 8 Kapeli and 19-year-old wing Emoni Narawa are among players to watch in Clayton McMillan’s Samurai squad as the invitational team hope to make it 13th time lucky at the GFI HKFC 10s
Hong Kong; April 2, 2019: Dreadlocked Samurai back-rower Zane Kapeli competes in his first GFI HKFC 10s this week and the Tonga back-rower hopes to finish this year by competing in his first Rugby World Cup.
Bay of Plenty boss Clayton McMillan is coaching Samurai at Hong Kong Football Club and has packed his squad with his Steamers players including the 6ft 3in Kapeli and “rapid” 19-year-old wing Emoni Narawa who made the final trial for the New Zealand U20 squad last month.
Although McMillan has played the GFI HKFC 10s before, all of his players are new to the competition, yet most have the advantage of being Bay of Plenty teammates.
Locks Aaron Carroll and Baden Wardlaw will co-captain the side, which Kapeli believes has a chance of helping Samurai lift the Cup at the 13th time of trying, having reached the final in 2010, 2013 and 2016.
“We’re definitely a tight-knit group as most of us have played with each other at Bay of Plenty so there are connections that are going to help. We know each other’s style, so hopefully it will all gel in the tournament. And the guys from outside Bay of Plenty are very handy,” said Kapeli, among the few non-Kiwis in the squad.
“The coach has played 10s before, so knows what to expect. It feels closer to 15s than sevens, but I hope there’s a bit more space than 15s so I’ll have the chance for a few runs, then we’ll leave it to the boys like Emoni to finish.”
A self-confessed “late bloomer”, Kapeli was called up last November by legendary Wallaby Toutai Kefu, who has coached Tonga since 2016. Kapeli made his test debut against French Barbarians as a substitute and then started No. 8 against Georgia, so harbours ambitions of playing at the World Cup in Japan later this year.
“I’d love to be involved with the World Cup squad, so I’m working as hard as I can,” said Kapeli. “I’m really enjoying my rugby and hopefully I can be there.”
As fifth seeds, Samurai will start in Pool D with fourth seeds Mourant Fiji Army, Hunter and Boo East Africans and USA’s Tiger Rugby whose squad includes 2016 Olympic gold medallist Kitione Taliga of Fiji.
Isake Katonibau captains Fiji Army – the tournament’s only newcomers – after helping Fiji win the last four Hong Kong Sevens and has selected a 15s-focused forward pack that he believes will be suited to the 10-a-side format.“It’s my first time playing 10s rugby so it’s going to be pretty exciting. Over the past few years, there have been a couple of teams from Fiji in the event and they haven’t done so well because they used many sevens players, so they had problems because 10s is more similar to 15s,” said Katonibau.
“It’s physically demanding and you need to win in the contact areas, so my analysis was that it’s better to bring players with a 15s background.”
A highlight of this year’s GFI HKFC 10s is the first Rugby Legends Tackle Cancer exhibition charity game at 3.50pm on Thursday, which will raise money for the tournament’s official charity, Hong Kong Cancer Fund.
Former England flyhalf Andy Goode will captain a side including compatriots Jason Leonard, Simon Shaw, Rob Vickerman, Ben Gollings and Tom Varndell, as well as Scotland’s Tom Smith and Hong Kong’s Rowan Varty.
Former Scotland lock Jim Hamilton will captain a team including Australians David Campese, Justin Harrison (Australia), DJ Forbes, Scott Waldrom, Terry Wright (New Zealand), Alesana Tuilagi (Samoa) and Sam Viriviri (Fiji). Money will be raised by sponsorship, participation and on-site donations.
34th GFI HKFC 10s: Teams by seeding/pool (with selected highlights)
- (A) Biarritz Gavekal (Cup winners 2017, 2018)
- (B) Tradition YCAC (Cup runners-up 2014, 2015, 2018)
- (C) Grove Penguins (Cup winners 2013, 2016)
- (D) Mourant Fiji Army (Debut 2019)
- (D) Samurai International (Cup runners-up 2010, 2013, 2016)
- (C) Asia Pacific Dragons (Cup winners 2012, 2014, 2015)
- (B) A-Trade Overseas Old Boys (Plate winners 2016; Plate runners-up 2018)
- (A) Kir Club Pyrenees (Cup semis 2009; Plate winners 2017)
- (A) Projecx Waterboys (Plate semis 2016, 2017, 2018)
- (B) Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles (Cup semis 2015; Bowl winners 2018)
- (C) Classic Wallabies (Bowl semis 2017, 2018)
- (D) Hunter and Boo East Africans (Bowl runners-up 2018)
- (D) Tiger Rugby (Bowl semis 2018)
- (C) Natixis HKFC (Shield Winners 2012, 2016, 2018)
- (B) Irish Vikings (Bowl runners-up 2009, 2017; Shield winners 2010, 2013)
- (A) Shanghai RFC Silver Dragons (Shield winners 2017)
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About GFI HKFC 10s
Hong Kong Football Club has hosted the 10s every year since it was first staged in 1986 to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary. The GFI HKFC 10s is annually held on the Wednesday and Thursday before the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens and is also sanctioned by the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU). GFI Group, a leading provider of brokerage services and trading support products, has title sponsored the event since 2006. The tournament traditionally attracts many stars of the game including seven of the New Zealand squad that won the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Since GFI started its title sponsorship, the tournament has featured Joe Roff and Toutai Kefu (both 2006), Jonah Lomu (2007), Brian Lima and Israel Dagg (2008), Bob Skinstad (2009), Waisale Serevi, Beauden Barrett and Sam Cane (2010), George Gregan and Christian Cullen (2011), Justin Marshall (2011, 2012), Mils Muliaina (2012), Marty Holah and Nehe Milner-Skudder (2013), George Smith, Alesana Tuilagi and Rupeni Caucaunibuca (2014), Todd Clever (2012, 2013, 2015), Rico Gear (2011, 2013, 2015), Jimmy Cowan, Carl Hayman and Nate Ebner (2016), Damien Traille (2017) and Wendell Sailor (2017-18).
About GFI Group Inc.
Founded in New York in 1987 and acquired by BGC Partners in 2015, GFI Group Inc (GFI) provides competitive wholesale market brokerage services in a multitude of global over-the-counter (OTC) and exchange listed cash and derivatives markets. Over more than 25 years, GFI has expanded both organically and through acquisitions into a broad range of markets, including fixed income derivatives, cash fixed income, emerging market financial products, energy and commodity derivatives, and equities. GFI employs more than 2,100 people with additional offices in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Cape Town, Santiago, Bogota, Lima, Dubai, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Calgary, Los Angeles and Sugar Land (TX). GFI provides services and products to over 2,600 institutional clients, including leading investment and commercial banks, corporations, insurance companies and hedge funds. Its brands include GFISM, GFInet®, CreditMatch®, GFI ForexMatch®, EnergyMatch®, FENICS®, Starsupply® and Amerex®.
About Hong Kong Cancer Fund
Our mission is to ensure that no one faces cancer alone. Hong Kong Cancer Fund is the city’s largest cancer support organisation, providing free information and professional support to anyone living with or affected by cancer. Established in 1987, our vision is to improve the quality of cancer support in Hong Kong and ensure that no one faces cancer alone. We began by offering free information and support, these activities have slowly expanded over time to address all aspects of care through our support centres in the community and hospital network. Our work now encompasses psychosocial services, public education, cancer research, home care, peer support, complementary therapies, funding of hospital equipment and much more. These services all help to address the gaps in cancer care and improve the lives of people touched by the condition. To facilitate our work, we have a network that comprises of five CancerLink support centres and Cancer Patient Resource Centres (CPRs) at seven major public hospitals.