2017-18 Old Mutual HKRU Men's Premiership preview: USRC Tigers

September 16, 2017

 Photo credit: Dan Marchant

 

For the USRC Tigers, the only way is up as the club look to set things straight following a disappointing 2016-17 campaign, which yielded a paltry 3 wins out of 15 games.

 

With a mixture of international and domestic recruitment, however, the club's transfer activities over the summer sends a resolute message to the rest of the Premiership.

 

Trading youthful exuberance for a more seasoned look, the departures of Cado Lee Ka-to to Japan, prop Ryan Campbell to defending champions Valley, as well as Will Eversfield and Jack Capon to the UK for studies will be more than softened by the acquisitions of hooker Nick Seymour and flanker Joe Elyatt, formerly of Stade Rouennais in France's Federale 1.

 

Joining the duo are Hong Kong-born Ian Etheridge, formerly a prop for Cardiff Met University's First XV and centre Andrew Krelle, who finished 5th with HKCC.

 

 Photo credit: Dan Marchant

 

Tigers back-rower Sam Hocking, who takes up the reins as coach this season, believes keeping the club's core players will be just as crucial as its successes in the transfer market.

 

"We have got a settled squad and I obviously want to put my own stamp on the way we play," said the 32-year-old, who was top tryscorer at Plymouth Albion.

 

Another exciting prospect for Hocking is witnessing the development of Liam Gallaher, Sam Purvis and Dan Barlow, all of whom recently featured in Hong Kong colours under the watchful eye of Leigh Jones in Kenya.

 

"That's only going to help the club on a whole," Hocking remarked.

 

"I want to get a solid season under our belts. We're in a different position now where we are a lot better suited in terms of Hong Kong qualified players and have retained most of our players from last season."

 

Armed with considerable tools at their disposal, the USRC Tigers will view this season as an opportunity to transform their squad into genuine title contenders and have every chance of becoming a surprise package in the rebranded Premiership. 

 

Hocking and his charges face a stern test against Valley on 23rd September at King's Park.

 

 

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