- Sevens legend Ben is back at his 'second home' in Hong Kong
- England bidding to open up lead in HSBC Sevens World Series
Photo: Getty Images
Ben Gollings wants England to raise the roof in his ‘second home’ at the Cathay Pacific Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens.
Gollings captains the England side that leads the HSBC Sevens World Series at the half-way mark as they chase their first ever global title.
Success in Hong Kong (March 25-27), where extra points are on offer to the winners of the 24-team tournament, and Adelaide (April 2-3) would set them up perfectly for the final two stages in May – the Emirates Airline London and Edinburgh Sevens at Twickenham and Murrayfield.
The Far East is a happy hunting ground for Gollings, who has banked four Hong Kong titles, the last in 2006 when his try and conversion after the hooter had sounded snatched victory against Fiji. That famous win had thousands of ex-pat fans on their feet and England are looking for a repeat in the carnival atmosphere of the Hong Kong Stadium.
"It is all to play for and Hong Kong can make or break a season – it’s massive, pivotal, and that’s why we have to be at our best," said Gollings.
"Having tasted success there it is a place you want to go back to and to win there again. It is sensational and I hope we can go and taste that success again. I’ve been there a lot, love playing there and I’ve got a big attachment to Hong Kong. The city is great because it gives you the opportunity to enjoy rugby and to get away from rugby too.
"At the stadium, it’s an electric atmosphere. It feels like the whole crowd is right on top of you when you come out. We purposely run down one side in front of our fans just before we warm up just to get them going. It’s great to have that support – it’s like a second home for us – and let’s hope we can really give them a reason to raise the roof again this year."
We're eqippped to win in Hong Kong – Gollings
Photo: Getty Images
England flew out with a 13-man squad having added Ollie Lindsay-Hague (Harlequins) and Marcus Watson (London Irish) to the group that played in Wellington and Las Vegas with Simon Hunt (Birmingham & Solihull) involved in Championship play-offs with his club. Mark Odejobi – a replacement for the injured Isoa Damudamu in Vegas – retains his place.
So far, continuity has been important for England with 14 players used during the first four legs of the series. Lindsay-Hague was a major star during the side’s victory in Dubai, Odejobi has been on the big stage before in the 2008 England Under 20 side that won a Grand Slam and reached the Junior World Championship final, while Watson has featured for the London Irish first team and played for England Under 20 last season.
"I think we’re equipped to win again in Hong Kong," said Gollings. "We’ve got a fairly settled side and we’re unlucky not to have won a couple more tournaments this season. These boys have the ability and lots of potential.
"It’s great to have Ollie Lindsay-Hague back – he did spice things up for us at Dubai, he’s come a long way since he first played for us last season and he does add another ball player to the squad which is great for us.
"Mark Odejobi has been quietly going about his business – he’s a strong runner and very powerful – and Marcus Watson has a great opportunity to come away to a great couple of tournaments and get a taste of what it’s all about. It’s a great springboard for his career."
You can watch England Sevens in action on May 21 and 22 at Twickenham Stadium in the Emirates Airline London Sevens, the penultimate leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series. Tickets are available from £15 via RFU.com.