Barbarians-style squad promises to pack a punch at HKFC 10s tournament with backing of Mourant Ozannes.
Samurai International RFC has announced a second successive year of partnership with leading offshore law firm, Mourant Ozannes, for the 2017 GFI HKFC 10s tournament taking place on 5 and 6 April 2017.
The Barbarians-style team returns to make its eighth successive appearance at the tournament with an exciting selection of players hungry to challenge the top teams at the 10-a-side opener to the Hong Kong Sevens.
The Mourant Ozannes Samurai’s 10’s selection model is based around International 7s players this year with a mix of nationalities being selected for the new-look line up. The first player announced is South African fullback, Wynand Pienaar, currently with the Griffons and making an incredible and inspiring return to rugby following a cancer diagnosis in 2016. Pienaar is part of a six-nation Mourant Ozannes Samurai squad for the 2017 GFI HKFC 10s tournament.
Samurai is also to continue its affiliation with the US Eagles sevens team with the signing up of 2016 Rio Games rugby Olympian and US 7s player, prop Garrett Bender. Last year the Eagles benefitted from a good look at the return to rugby of Nate Ebner, special teams player for the New England Patriots. Ebner, a Super Bowl winner with the Patriots in 2015, sought a release and was included in Samurai’s 2016 squad playing in all of their games at the HKFC 10s. He was then drafted back in to the US sevens squad for the remainder of the HSBC World Series and eventually competed at last year’s Rio Olympics. Ebner had the best season of his five-year NFL career in 2016, leading the league in special-team tackles and being named second-team NFL All-Pro. Ebner capped off an astonishing year with his second Super Bowl win in February to seal what must become legendary status.
Samurai International has also just announced that British and Lions player, dual-code rugby legend and ex-Samurai 7s player, John Bentley, will be a Samurai Ambassador for 2017, a British and Lions tour year. Bentley has been a Samurai Vice President for several years.
Mourant Ozannes Samurai International RFC founder and manager, Terry Sands, commented: “A second successive year of sponsorship from Mourant Ozannes is fantastic news for us, as it means that we can focus on preparing to give it our best shot.”
“This year we will have a heavy emphasis on selecting a real Barbarians-style team, with no less than six different nationalities, and some class-players from across the world who have a fantastic individual and collective experience gained in the top tournaments. We have a really strong team shaping up with both Premiership and Olympic experience.”
“We’ve got a very high standard of squad coming together and are recruiting players for the HK 10s that together make for a really exciting team. Even though a win at the GFI HKFC 10s has eluded us to date, we are gunning for the trophy in 2017!”
Paul Christopher, Mourant Ozannes Hong Kong Managing Partner, said: “We are thrilled to be on board for a second successive year and hope Samurai International can build on their heroic performance in 2016 where they narrowly missed out on the title when the Penguins clinched a 5-0 victory in extra-time. This year’s line-up is impressive and we wish the squad and management team all the very best of success.”
Renowned as the world’s best annual 10-a-side tournament, the GFI HKFC 10s has long attracted the game’s top players including seven of the New Zealand team who won the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Now in its 32nd year, the 2017 tournament kicks off on Wednesday 5 April ahead of the world-famous Hong Kong Sevens.