After winning the Asian qualifiers, the fired-up visitors will march in as the favourites against the Cook Islands in the opening clash of the two-match RWC qualifying series, which will be held tomorrow at the BCI Stadium, starting at 3pm.
Hong Kong lost to Uruguay in the repechage tournament of the 2015 RWC qualifiers and the side is keen to go up a notch in the 2019 RWC qualifiers.
And in order to get to the repechage tournament to stand any chance of making their first-ever RWC, the side will first need to beat the Cook Islands this weekend.
“As far as I’m aware, we haven’t played the Cook Islands. This is the furthest our players have travelled, or as remotely as this place, to play a match (in this qualifiers),” said Andrew Hall, assistant coach of the Hong Kong side.
“In the last qualifiers in 2014 for the 2015 RWC, we got to the repechage stage against Uruguay. That was a fair distance but we weren’t successful there.
“This is almost completely different – a very few players are left since that match and it’s a new experience for many of these players.”
The team arrived early yesterday and spent time to recover from the long travel before their first training session later in the afternoon. Hall said most of the players in their squad were based in Hong Kong, playing in the domestic club competition.
“Everyone is registered to a local club and everyone plays week in and week out in the premier competition. That has been our way for the last eight years.
“We are trying to get players back to Hong Kong and play domestic premiership, which then feeds to our international competitions.”
Tickets to the match are selling at Bluesky Cook Islands and the Rarotonga Brewery. A ticket in the stands costs $20 at the door or $15 presale, and you can get a family pass (two adults and two children under 13) for $50. General admission is $10, with $30 family passes available.