Bangkok International Rugby Sevens: Hartlepool go through final paces

Hartlepool's squad outside Benchasiri Park
Hartlepool's squad outside Benchasiri Park

Hartlepool's rugby team have completed their final preparations for the Bangkok International Sevens, despite coming up against a surprise and awkward opponent.

The united town side found the beautiful Benchasiri Park in the hustle and bustle of the Thai capital to go through a few moves ahead of the tournament on Saturday and Sunday.

Jack McCallum plays out a pass at Benchasiri Park

Jack McCallum plays out a pass at Benchasiri Park

Unfortunately the side were moved on by the park-keeper leaving the players to finished off with an impromptu session on a basketball court.

Despite being beaten by the 'parky', the squad are up for the challenge, according to the side's youngest player.

Talented teenager Alex Rochester told SportMail: "We've not played together as a team but we've come together as a group.

"Our first game [against Lao Nagas] will be hard as we've got to get used to the heat and humidity and get our structure right.

"But I think we can come through it OK and we'll be better in our second match.

"We've got some good quality in our squad and the lads are excited to play in such a big tournament."

Hartlepool are one of eight clubs in the international division, facing Lao Nagas, the Thailand development outfit All for One and Olymp from Kazakhstan, in Pool A.

The powerful Pacific Warriors are in Group B, featuring two former All Blacks Sevens stars Roy Kinikinilau and Lote Raikabula, and, depending on results, could be opponents on finals day.

Rochester says the lure of coming up against the powerful Kiwis is a thrilling one.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone of my age," said the 19-year-old.

"To get the chance to potentially play against top international players is a dream come true."

The Rovers full-back admits he is going through an emotional time as the Bangkok International Sevens takes place on the first anniversary of the death of his mum, Lorraine.

"It's been hard," he said. "The lads have been great and I think once the rugby starts I will be able to focus on the rugby and enjoy it.

"I was really happy to be asked to be part of the squad and it should be a great experience."