Cuthbert dreaming of Hong Kong return


Cuthbert dreaming of Hong Kong return

Wales wing Alex Cuthbert has never forgotten his debut at the Hong Kong Stadium and can’t wait to get another chance to play there.

Top of his list of possible return visits is Saturday, 1 June when the British & Irish Lions face the Barbarians in the opening game of the Lions’ 125th anniversary tour.

He is one of a handful of top class finishers bidding to nail down a wing spot in Warren Gatland’s team and has already fought out a one-try-apiece draw with Ireland’s Simon Zebo in the RBS 6 Nations championship to date this season.

The 6ft 6in, 16st 3lbs flyer certainly knows hi sway to the line and that try in the Welsh defeat against the Irish was his sixth in 15 Tests. On the other Welsh wing George North has bagged 12 in 28 games for his country.

This weekend the two giants will be in operation on the Welsh flanks in Rome for the game against Italy, aiming to build on the morale boosting victory over France in Paris in the last round that ended a miserable run of eight defeats.

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Still to come for Cuthbert in his Lions trial period are clashes with Scotland’s Tim Visser and England’s Mike Brown as the pressure to impress Gatland intensifies towards the end of the championship.

But if the 22-year-old does make the grade he will have plenty of good memories to fall back on before a possible Lions debut in Hong Kong.

“I was lucky enough to play twice for Wales at the Hong Kong Sevens in 2010 and 2011. They were both fantastic experiences and I simply can’t wait to get another chance to play there,” said Cuthbert.

“On my first trip it was the biggest stadium at which I had ever played. I couldn’t believe it when I ran out there and looked up at the stands around me – it looked awesome and it was certainly inspiring.

“I scored a try in my first game in Hong Kong, in a 12-10 win over Japan, and we went on to reach the Bowl Final. We lost to Canada, but the excitement in that stadium was something special.

“There is no doubt in my mind, as well as in those of every other player I’ve spoken to, that the Hong Kong Stadium is a special place to play. The sevens tournament there is the best on the circuit and creates an unique atmosphere.

“I loved the two seasons I played with Wales on the sevens scene. That’s where it all began for me and I’ve always wanted to go back to Hong Kong and play there again.

“The fact the Lions will be playing their opening game there this summer is fantastic for the players who will make the squad and for the fans. Hong Kong is the perfect rugby venue for players and fans alike, something to savour and remember for the rest of your life.

“I’d obviously love to get a call from Warren Gatland asking me to play for the Lions, but at the moment I’m simply concentrating on trying to get a run going with the Wales team. It was a huge boost to our confidence and morale to beat the French in Paris and end that long run of defeats.

“We know what Italy are capable of because they showed the world with their first round win over France. We know we’ve got to front up once again, but we’re prepared for that.

“We want to keep the momentum going to give us the chance to play our kind of rugby. The championship is still there to fight for and we’ll keep going to the end.”

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