Daniel Temm and Cameron Cowell return from the squad beaten in extra-time of last year’s Cup final, while England Sevens teammate Oskar Hirskj-Douglas joins the three-time runners-up in Hong Kong
Hong Kong; April 2, 2017: England Sevens duo Daniel Temm and scrumhalf Cameron Cowell will represent Mourant Ozannes Samurai International for a second year at the GFI HKFC 10s (April 5-6) as the three-time runners-up seek to win the Bill Burgess Cup for the first time in their 11th appearance.
Flanker Oskar Hirskj-Douglas, a contracted England Sevens player since 2015, is also part of the squad’s English contingent, which includes Saracens centre Tim Streather and 20-year-old Sale Sharks speedster Paolo Odogwu.
Mourant Ozannes Samurai start their campaign on Wednesday with Pool B matches against Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, UBB Gavekal – who have four contracted Fiji Sevens players – and CRFA Gladiators from China.
Mourant Ozannes is again supporting Samurai, who have captured the hearts of many neutrals after losing in three Cup finals in the past seven years, especially considering their agonising narrow defeats to Penguins in 2013 and last year when they lost 5-0 after a ‘golden try’ in the second period of extra-time.
Paul Christopher, Mourant Ozannes Hong Kong Managing Partner, said: “We are proud to continue our support of Samurai International RFC at the GFI HKFC 10s. We couldn’t ask for more than the players gave in the final last year. They left nothing on the field and made us very proud. It’s that level of commitment, flair and professionalism which we admire and see in ourselves.
“This year the 10s looks more competitive than ever and the selection that Samurai has made looks set to make a good impression on the tournament. We’re looking forward to following their progress and wish Mourant Ozannes Samurai, and all the teams competing, all the best for the tournament.”
Mourant Ozannes Samurai have again selected another diverse, Barbarians-style squad that includes players from England, Wales, South Africa, Canada, USA, New Zealand and the 120kg Sione Vailanu, the former Tonga U20 No. 8 who has played for Japan Sevens!
Luke Crocker, a recent Wales Sevens player, represents Mourant Ozannes Samurai in Hong Kong for a third time and is joined by Cardiff teammate Joe Tomlinson in a strong group of forwards that includes Temm, who was born and raised in New Zealand.
Temm, 25, rose up the ranks at Newcastle Falcons after originally moving to the UK to play cricket. Soon after playing last year’s GFI HKFC 10s, the flanker was called up by England Sevens and has since played on the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series.
Cowell, 21, returns after shining for Samurai in last year’s GFI HKFC 10s before the scrumhalf was called up on day two to England’s Hong Kong Sevens squad.
Canada internationals Gordon McRorie and wing Dan Moor boost the backline. McRorie, who was born in Hong Kong, played in the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the scrumhalf captained Canada in this year's Americas Rugby Championship.
The squad also includes South African prop Gerhardus Engelbrecht and backs Japie Nel and Wynand Pienaar, USA Sevens forward Malon Al-Jiboori and Kiwi flyhalf Adrian Curry.
Nick Wakley, the former Wales Sevens player now working with the Wales women’s 15s and sevens teams, is head coach for a fourth year and is supported by Don Barrell, the former Saracens back-rower and now Academy Manager.
John Bentley, who played for England in both union and league, is travelling to Hong Kong as an Ambassador for Mourant Ozannes Samurai 20 years after starring for the British and Irish Lions in South Africa.
Terry Sands, who founded the UK-based touring club in 1996, remains in charge, with his former roles as Team Manager for England Saxons then England Sevens helping secure Sevens Series players.
Sands said: “This year we again have a heavy emphasis on a real Barbarians-style team, with seven different nationalities and some class players from across the world who have a fantastic individual and collective experience from the top tournaments. Even though a win at the GFI HKFC 10s has eluded us to date, we are gunning for the trophy this time.”
Last year, Nate Ebner helped Samurai reach the final as the now-two-time Super Bowl winner pursued, and eventually achieved, his dream of playing for USA in the Olympics.
However, the squad missed three England Sevens players in last year’s final due to Cowell’s Hong Kong Sevens call-up and injuries to James Cordy-Redden and John Brake, but still held Penguins to a scoreless draw for 30 minutes of intense battle.
Despite never winning Hong Kong’s iconic 10-a-side tournament, Samurai have enjoyed sevens success around the world and last year won the Independence 7s (Lagos, Nigeria), Super Sevens Series (UK), Dublin 7s and the Greene King Premier 7s (UK), and were runners-up at the Safari 7s (Nairobi, Kenya) and New York 7s (USA).
In 2015, Samurai won the Amsterdam 7s (Netherlands), Safari 7s, Dubai 7s – International Invitation (UAE) and Super Sevens Series, and were runners-up in the Limerick World Club Sevens (Ireland).