Mai set for record-breaking appearance in Hong Kong
March 27, 2008
Samoa's captain Uale Mai will become the most capped IRB Sevens World Series player of all time when he leads his countrymen out for their opening match at the Hong Kong Stadium on Friday night.
The diminutive playmaker will be playing in his 51st Series event, eclipsing the record currently held jointly with former New Zealand scrum half Amasio Valence Raoma.
While Samoa also include matchwinners in Mikaele Pesamino and Lolo Lui, it is New Zealand and Fiji who start as favourites in Hong Kong. New Zealand have won 36 consecutive matches, a winning streak which has seen them capture six titles on the bounce. The Hong Kong crown, however, has eluded them since 2001.
"There's a real hunger in the side to win here this year," said coach Gordon Tietjens. "Of my players, none of them have won Hong Kong so that's the real driving challenge for them. Winning Hong Kong would mean everything to us and it would just about complete the World Series defence."
Fiji are certain to provide the kiwis with a stern test in Hong Kong. In the returning William Ryder and Lepani Nabuliwaqa they have two match winners, while Mosese Volavola, Nasoni Roko and captain Marika Vunibaka provide experience.
Elsewhere, four sets of twins are set to compete at the Hong Kong Stadium this weekend.
David and Diogo Mateus are two of Portugal's five Rugby World Cup players competing and Robert and James Lewis will also line up together for Wales.
For Japan Kenichi and Shinichi and Yokoyama both make their sevens debuts, while New Zealand's Edwin Cocker could face the prospect of playing against his twin brother John, who lines up alongside World Cup captain Nili Latu for their native Tonga.