FORMER Leek player Rob McDermott, who has been playing for the Hong Kong team in the territory’s Premier League for the last three seasons, recently qualified to play for the national A team.
The team is made up of fringe national players and newly-qualified players, as well as promising local players.
It gives the coaching and management of the national side new talent to consider.
Rob made the squad along with six of his team mates and they have been busily training in the close season.
As part of that process, Hong Kong’s A squad was invited by the Singapore Rugby Union to play in a tri-nation tournament in Singapore last week.
The other invited nation was Chinese Taipei, as Taiwan is known in international rugby.
Singapore is ranked 58th in the world rankings and Chinese Taipei 56th. Rob started at outside centre in the high humidity conditions of the equatorial island, and the game proved highly entertaining for the neutrals.
The lead changed hands seven times before Hong Kong finally beat off the local challenge with two tries in the last 10 minutes to win 35-25.
With a rest on Monday, the squad trained on Tuesday before taking to the field on Wednesday against Chinese Taipei.
Rob started at full back this time and it became apparent early on that Hong Kong was much more switched-on for this game, as the squad started to gel.He scored a try in each half to help Hong Kong thrash the opposition by 65-7.
Taipei played out the last 20 minutes with 14 men, having used all their replacements.
The Singapore rugby president congratulated Hong Kong on their success at an after-tournament celebration and invited them back next year, when the country hopes to host a four-nation tournament.
It is planned to base the competition at the new 1.6 billion dollar national stadium with its Twickenham- like playing surface and Millennium Stadium-style roof.
With 600 million potential players in Asia, Singapore is looking to host the next World Cup 7s tournament in 2018 and tap into the growing interest in the game in Asia.
Rob McDermott has two brothers, Gary and Liam, who play for Leek 1st 1st XV. Their parents, John and Sheila, are both well-connected to the club.
Meanwhile, director of Rugby Neil Edge is urging the club’s senior players to make an extra special effort to attend training tmorrow (Thursday) night, 7pm start.
The new season kicks off on Saturday, with the 1st XV facing newlypromoted Willenhall at home in the County Cup. The 2nd XV are at home to St Leonard’s and the 3rd XV travel to Stafford.