Justin Coveney spoke to Asia Rugby after the Hong Kong Sevens. This is the second part of a two-part series hearing from the Philippines star.
The Philippines will face Sri Lanka on 29 May in Chinese Taipei with the hosts facing Singapore in the other semi-final.
Following their recent exploits at the Hong Kong Sevens, mood in the camp has been buoyant.
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Justin Coveney who was part of the side that beat Zimbabwe in Hong Kong and will prepare for the upcoming Division I gave an insight into the Philippines preparation.
“The Philippine Volcanoes are unique in the sense that our preparation as a team occurs maybe one to two weeks before each tournament,” explained Coveney.
“Most of our players have Filipino heritage, meaning our mothers or fathers are Filipino, but do not live in the Philippines and play their rugby abroad in countries such as Australia, England and New Zealand.
“I, myself, have to request leave from my club side in Japan. With Hong Kong, since we qualified following our success at the Sri Lanka Sevens in October 2018, each individual player had the onus to train and prepare and be in peak form ahead of our training camp which began in March.
“The outstanding fitness results on the first day of training camp demonstrated that this group of players were serious about making a mark at the Hong Kong Sevens, and really set the tone for a successful training camp which flowed onto a great result over the weekend.”
The Philippines won the Division I competition in 2018 with 32-24 and 38-12 wins over Singapore, while in 2017 they finished third after defeats to Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
With a busy year ahead, however, the Philippines will also be looking to further develop their fitness ahead and experience internationally.
“Now the fifteens program will be competing in the Asia Rugby Championship Division 1 against Singapore, Sri Lanka and Chinese Taipei,” added Coveney.
“But following this will be the three legs of the Asia Rugby Sevens Series from August to October, then the SEA Games in the Philippines and Olympic Qualifiers in November.
“The experience in Hong Kong will definitely instill more confidence within the team of our ability to be successful in Asia and the world, as well as motivate both players and coaches to work harder for more success including top finishes in Asia, for gold at the SEA Games and qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“The win against Zimbabwe was the culmination of all the hard work and self belief since the Doha tournament.
“One overlooked fact was also that the win over Zimbabwe was the first win by a Philippine Volcanoes team over a national team outside of Asia.
“For the playing group and coaches, it demonstrated that when we trust our structure as well as our own individual talents, we can be successful on the field against any opponent.
“In this regard, the Union has the strong belief that we can qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the second Asian Team, and our performance over the weekend only served to reinforce that belief.”
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