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Rugby: Umaga’s Dragons tackle great expectations at HKFC Tens

All Blacks legend Tana Umaga has guided Dragons to victory at the GFI HKFC Tens in two of the last three years.

All Blacks legend Tana Umaga has guided Asia Pacific Dragons to victory at the HKFC Tens in two of the last three years.

March 24, 2015: Tana Umaga is hoping to lead BGC Asia Pacific Dragons to a third GFI HKFC Tens title in four years, but has cited 2013 champions Penguins and last year’s finalists Tradition YCAC among his side’s main threats.


The All Blacks legend guided Dragons to victory in his first year in charge in 2012, the year after the star-studded invitational side reached the final on their debut.


After a quarter-final exit at the hands of Penguins in 2013, Umaga’s men bounced back to win the title again last year, recovering from an early 14-0 deficit to beat YCAC 29-14 in a sensational Cup final.


“Obviously there is a lot of expectation on us this year. We have a lot of the same side that was here last year, but this is also a great opportunity for the lads who will be coming here for the first time,” said Umaga, who won 74 caps for the All Blacks.


“The Penguins have some quality players such as Rico Gear and Todd Clever, and Tradition YCAC will also be up there as a team to watch. There are some quality sides, quality players.”


Umaga’s squad includes Samoa flyhalf Tusi Pisi, former New Zealand Sevens star Roy Kinkinilau and Tonga legend Nili Latu, who captained his nation at the 2007 World Cup and was still leading his country last year.


Pisi, 32, is hoping that his experience will help Dragons become the first side to retain the Bill Burgess Cup since Aliens in 2010.


“There are a few young boys in the squad who are looking to make a name for themselves here in Hong Kong,” Pisi said. “There are a lot of expectations on in the squad, but we are a good group of lads and are looking to get that win.”


Northland player Paul Tuaimalo is among those looking to make his name and will be making his Dragons debut at Sports Road. One of the younger members of the squad, the 22-year-old is looking for a successful first outing in Hong Kong.


“This is my first time to Hong Kong for both the 10s and Sevens, so I am really looking forward to the experience, the fitness and the whole week,” Tuaimalo said.


“The standards are pretty high within the squad, but it’s cool to be playing with some of the legends of the game and being coached by a rugby legend like Tana.”


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Source: GFI HKFC Tens (; Editing by SportAsia

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