Hartlepool have a new leader for their crack at the Bangkok International Rugby Sevens.
Original skipper, Aaron Myers, has been ruled out because of work commitments, with his West club-mate, Liam Bailey. taking the captain’s armband, for next Saturday and Sunday’s tournament.
I’m delighted Liam has accepted the captaincy ... he’s a cracking playerJOHN BICKERSTAFF
Bailey will take charge of the players in Thailand’s capital, where the town’s united side will be making their debut at the renowned event which attracts entries from Asia and beyond.
The absence of Myers, an incredible sevens exponent who has represented his country at numerous internationals, comes as a set-back to the Poolies.
But Myers has yet to play this season and was forced to withdraw. Younger brother, Eldon, has too been forced out because of Naval duties.
Hartlepool manager, John Bickerstaff told SportMail that he was “delighted” Bailey has accepted the role.
“Losing a player of Aaron’s calibre is a blow, there is no getting away from that,” he said.
“It would be a blow to any team, this is a fella who has played at the highest level in sevens for both he Newcastle Falcons and England.
“Eldon will be missed as well, he’s some player too, but he’s away with the Royal Navy.
“The risk of people coming out of the squad was always going to be a possibility.
“Remember we picked the squad originally last year for the 2016 Bangkok Sevens which was postponed.
“I’d like to thank Aaron for taking a training session and you could see the lads getting better during that.
“But I’m delighted Liam has accepted the captaincy, he’s really keen and looking forward to leading the side.
“He is a cracking player and has been for years.
“I remember him coming into the West first team when he was 17.
“League rules meant he was too young to play in his own position of hooker, but he was so good that West put him in their team in the back row.
“Liam has played flanker, hooker and centre for West in the league and represented Durham.
“While we’ve lost the Myers brothers me and [coach] Mick [Ainslie] are very pleased with our squad.
“It’s got a very good balance to it and we’ve still got the lads who are guesting for us from Hong Kong Football Club to meet up with when we get there.”
Hartlepool’s team is made up of players from five clubs,.
Bailey, will be joined by West team-mates, Liam Austwicke and Lee Maddison.
Rovers provide two players, Alex Rochester and Adam Smith, as do Horden & Peterlee, Brad Green and Jack McCallum.
BBOB back Peter Howe, Seaton Carew’s Cameron Lithgo, Hong Kong pair Alex Bayliss and Bernard Reeves complete the squad of 12, who are sponsored by Hart Innovations, Seymour Civil Engineering and Utility Alliance.
Hartlepool’s rivals in the International section are the Thai Air Force, Thai Barbarians, Lao Nagas, Wiss Madrid, Olympic, Asiasport Almaty and All for One.