New HK Scottish duo Josh Dowsing and Lars Morrice are hopeful their stint in Hong Kong will act as a vital stepping stone in their quest to play Super Rugby.
Members of the Chiefs development squad, the pair are in Hong Kong with three teammates as part of a deal between the Chiefs and the union to strengthen the Premiership and in turn the national side.
Both played for the first time in Scottish’s 16-0 win over the Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers in horrendous conditions on Saturday, with flanker Dowsing having a significant impact in the second half.
The 21-year-old, who has played most of his rugby in Waikato and Taranaki, is keen to get as much out of his time here as possible.
“First of all, [I’m hoping] to get a jump on back home,” said Dowsing.
“But then, I guess you never know. If the opportunities are right I’m pretty keen to stick around and see how it goes.”
The plan is to stay until the end of the season, but the fact that Dowsing is already considering the possibility of a longer stay here must be music to the union’s ears.
Of course, playing Super Rugby for the Waikato-based Chiefs is the ultimate goal and Dowsing is hopeful that is not too far down the track.
“We’d like to think one or two years but I guess it just depends how much hard work and how much graft you put in,” he said.
“Hopefully a couple of years but fingers crossed I guess.”
For lock Morrice, who is also 21 and has played predominantly in Bay of Plenty, his Hong Kong adventure is set to serve two purposes and he is confident of returning home a better player.
“It’s definitely good to experience a different kind of rugby, it’s a lot different to back home,” he said.
“I just want to get some game time under my belt, I have come off the back of an injury so I’m keen to get back into it.”
Only two weeks into their stay, Dowsing says it is “pretty cool to come over here in our off season and throw the ball around and have some fun” after a quick-fire decision to make the move.
“Literally one Friday our development officer back home gave us a phone call and asked if we were keen to go to Hong Kong and then I guess we were on a flight out the next week,” he said.
“It all happened really fast but I’m really excited it’s all happening.”
Scottish drew level with Societe Generale Valley – who were upset 20-13 by Kowloon – at the top of the table and coach Craig Hammond was happy with his two additions.
“I thought Josh was outstanding for the 40 minutes of footy he played,” Hammond said.
By all means use the Premiership to drive Hong Kong’s improvement, but is a six-team finals series necessary?
“He has got a lot to give and Lars came on and mixed it up. He is a big enforcer for us. It is good, we have got a bit of strength and depth which we’ve never had in the years I have been here.”
Another of the Chiefs quintuplet, Joseph Ikenasio, impressed starting at centre for Tigers.
Kowloon orchestrated the biggest boilover of the season against a Valley side they went within six points of in their last meeting to add some spice to the race for the league championship.
In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, CPM Gai Wu Falcons belted Kowloon 47-7 in the only match, with the other two clashes washed out.
The Falcons started well with three tries in the opening half, before conceding Kowloon’s only points with an unconverted try before the break.
As conditions worsened, the game opened up further for Falcons as they poured on 32 points in the final forty minutes to claim their sixth win of the season.