Hong Kong’s Matt Worley will start at fullback when his Racing 92 side take on South African Super Rugby side the Cell C Sharks at Aberdeen on Saturday from 4.00pm, while former All Black star Dan Carter races the clock to be fit.
It will be Worley’s first senior start for the side and he is surprised to be given the opportunity to feature from the get go.
“It’s awesome, in the preseason games I was on the bench, which I was expecting. To come on and get 20 or 30 minutes was still a great opportunity. The fact I can start this game is a bit of a surprise but I’m also excited by the challenge and representing Hong Kong in the game,” the 20-year-old said.
“It’s awesome to be home again. It’s been a long time since my mum, dad and sister have all seen me play. My mum’s really wanting to see me play, she hasn’t come to a single game in France yet, she hasn’t been able to, so she is more excited than anyone.
“I just want to play a solid match really and make my family proud and make Hong Kong proud to see my progress and watch me play here, because it has been a while since they have seen me representing Hong Kong in Hong Kong – especially like this.”
Racing enter the game in the middle of their French Top 14 season, while the Sharks are putting the finishing touches on their preseason ahead of their first Super Rugby match against the Lions on February 17.
“I’m really excited to take on the Sharks for the first time. They are going to be really fired up and ready for this. Whoever plays well will get a place in the Super Rugby squad so it is pretty much a do-all-youcan match for them,” Worley said.
“I think this whole tour is a nothing-to-lose tour, there is so much that I can gain. Just being on tour is a huge experience. You meet new players, you hear stories, you make new friendships.”
Carter is named on the bench and is hopeful of playing some part in the match: “The calf tightened up a little bit after Saturday’s game, so fingers crossed,” said the three time World Rugby Player of the Year.
The Sharks are eager to get as much from the game as possible, with coach Robert du Preez admitting his players are auditioning for a place in the side in two weeks.
“We want to gauge where we are from a conditioning point of view and the players in the team are there to stake some claims for our first game,” he said.
Mr Alain Gallois, Chief Executive Officer, Natixis, Asia Pacific, commented on the title sponsor’s support for the Natixis Cup saying, “This year is the fourth time that we have held the Natixis Rugby Cup in Hong Kong, and we are as excited as ever to be bringing the best of rugby to the rugby loving population of Hong Kong.
“At Natixis our commitment to rugby is a longstanding one. This is because we feel very close to the values that rugby carries: team spirit, engagement, discipline and hard work.
“We have sponsored Racing 92 since 2007 but even if the Natixis name will be, as always, on the Racing 92 shirts, we wish both teams best of luck for Saturday and we only hope that it will be a great and memorable rugby match,” added Mr Gallois.
Racing 92 squad for the Natixis Cup: 1. Vasil Kakovin, 2. Ole Avei, 3. Luc Ducalcon 4. Manuel Carizza, 5. Patricio Albacete, 6 Antonie Claassen, 7. Baptiste Chouzenoux, 8. Sootala Fa’Aso’o, 9. Teddy Iribaren, 10. Antoine Gibert, 11. Juan Imhoff, 12. Albert Vulivuli, 13. Leonard Paris, 14. Joe Rokocoko, 15. Matthew Worley, 16. Viliamu Afatia, 17. Luka Goginava 18. Edwin Maka, 19. Boris Palu, 20. Xavier Chauveau, 21. Dan Carter 22. Anthony Tuituavake, 23. Census Johnston, 24. Marc Andreu, 25. Benjamin Dambielle, 26. Louis Dupichot, 27. Esteban Abadie.
Cell C Sharks squad for the Natixis Cup 2018: 1. Juan Schoeman, 2. Franco Marais, 3. Thomas du Toit, 4. Ruan Botha ©, 5. Stephan Lewies, 6. Philip van der Walt, 7. Jacques Vermeulen, 8. Keegan Daniel, 9. Cameron Wright, 10. Robert du Preez (vice-captain), 11. Makazola Mapimpi, 12. Marius Louw, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 14. Kobus van Wyk, 15. Lwazi Mvovo, 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Mzamo Majola, 18. John-Hubert Meyer, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Tyler Paul, 21. Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu, 22. Grant Williams, 23. Curwin Bosch, 24. Jeremy Ward 25. Sbusiso Nkosi, 26. Garth April.
About the Natixis Rugby Cup 2018 will mark the fourth edition of the Natixis Rugby Cup, with the inaugural match in 2013 pitting Racing 92 versus Stade Toulousain in the first meeting between two professional French sides in Hong Kong. That encounter was followed by a Racing 92 versus Hong Kong Football Club President’s XV in 2015 and the debut appearance of a Super Rugby side in Hong Kong, The Highlanders, who played Racing 92 in a high-scoring affair in 2016.
In keeping with the finest traditions of French rugby, the Natixis Rugby Cups are marked by a strong outreach to the local rugby community and a sharing of the communal rugby spirit. This custom will continue in 2018 with a mini rugby clinic, featuring players not in the starting line-up on match day, to be held at Aberdeen immediately preceding the match. The fun will continue into the evening hours as well with a beer garden and live music on offer throughout the day.