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

September 18, 2017

 Photo credit: HKRU


As any championship winning side would tell you, stability is the bedrock of success.


The Hong Kong Cricket Club (HKCC) have been unfortunate in that regard, with the shock resignation of coach Deacon Manu early last season and departure of interim coach Kevin West among several dark clouds looming over the pre-season period, following a campaign that failed to match the heights of recent seasons.


To compound their woes, their ranks have been greatly thinned by the losses of of fly-half Jason Kjestrup and James Love, whose pinpoint kicking was a feature in the 2016-17 edition.


Alex and Tom McQueen will be in Australia for pilot training, while Rohan Cook, Jack Nielson and Andrew Krelle have swapped HKCC colours for Kowloon, HKFC and USRC Tigers respectively.


On top of that, the HKCC bid fond farewells to forwards Paul Dwyer and James Cooper, who have hung up their playing boots after stellar careers for both club and Hong Kong.


 Photo credit: The Irish Times


Appointed to guide the HKCC back to winning ways is Brett Wilkinson, a one-club man who spent his professional career as a prop for Connacht and Ireland.


He recently enjoyed coaching success with the Buccaneers, who gained promotion to the Irish first division under his tutelage- an achievement that bodes well for his new employers.  


The South African's task will be helped by the additions of Jak Lam from the Exeter Chiefs Academy, Scottish midfielder Gair Currie, former Canterbury sevens captain Lawrence Babe, utility back Jack Metters from Walkato as well as Luke van der Smit, a fleet-footed flanker with Currie Cup experience.


To further aid his cause, Wilkinson will be able to count on former teammate and Hong Kong international Dylan Rogers for a smooth transition to the local rugby scene.


"I've just been settling in, getting to know the systems and working the boys hard in pre-season," said the 33-year-old.


"It's a very competitive league, teams are looking to play with tempo and pace. It's a good standard and Hong Kong going professional has further raised the bar."


Going into the new season, he looks to build a reputation for HKCC as a tough-tackling outfit.


"I'm hoping to bring a physicality to our game, ensure we are good with our set piece and also move the ball to space and play what's in front of us," said Wilkinson.


"I'm enjoying it. It's different from what I'm used to and where I've come from, but it's those new challenges that I'm keen to embrace."


The Hong Kong Cricket Club's first challenge comes in the form of Hong Kong Scottish on 23rd September.



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