Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones expects his side to pay the utmost respect to their opponents this weekend – Korea.
Having recorded an impressive win over Malaysia last weekend, Jones’ side travel to Incheon for the first of two encounters with Korea in this year’s Asia Rugby Championship.
Both sides recorded wins in Kuala Lumpur and have five points each. Hong Kong sit ahead of Korea on points difference, but now all eyes now turn to this weekend’s fixture which could go a long way to determining who wins the 2018 tournament.
“We’ve been playing Korea regularly over recent years and we are always respectful of the strong threat they bring,” said Jones.
“They are also somewhat of an unknown quantity. Their new coaches will no doubt recharge a well-established squad of players who are capable of playing a very strong and entertaining brand of rugby.”
A win this weekend for either side would put them in the driving seat in the Top 3 standings, with the winner set to take on the Cook Islands in the next stage of Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification.
The winner of that will go on to the global repechage for the 20th and final spot at Japan 2019, meaning this Asia Rugby Championship has an added incentive to it.
“It would be a dream come true to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019, and it would illustrate that Hong Kong are a growing force in World Rugby,” added Jones.
“But we are in no doubt this year’s competition is going to prove both tough and exciting.”
Having seen his side drop their standards in the second half of their 35-10 win over Malaysia a fortnight ago, Korea coach Chang Ryul Choi wants to see his side put in a more cohesive performance.
"When we played Malaysia, there was some mixed communications between our forwards and backs in offence, so we have focused on fixing that. Defensively was quite decent so we are hoping to continue with that rhythm,” he said.
"We expect Hong Kong will play more aggressively, and more physically. We need to prepare for a harder contact game, but the players are very well mentally prepared for a tough match."
Captain Yong Seung Lee added: "First of all, our set-up play needs to be right to stop Hong Kong playing as they like to run with the ball. We also want to fight more physically for this match. But the coaches have asked us to prepare mentally too."
The match, being played at Namdong Asiad in Incheon, will be streamed HERE live on the Asia Rugby Facebook page.