With Hong Kong having won their first-ever Asia Rugby Championship title in 2018, both Korea and Malaysia will be aiming to get off to a winning start when the region's marquee tournament gets underway this weekend in Incheon.
Both coaches have named their 23-man squads for the match with Malaysia's Brad Mika set to take charge of his first Asia Rugby Championship encounter.
He has named second-row Dinesvaran Krisnan as captain, with the likes of Tomici Vunimoku, Sakiusa Gavidi, Mohamad Ramli and Mohd Rosli all adding experience to the side.
“We know Korea are one of the top sides in Asia,” said Mika. “But we will bring the exciting Malaysian game to this tournament. We’re looking forward to being here and it should be a cracker.”
Malaysia made history in 2018 by competing in their first-ever Asia Rugby Championship Top 3 and despite losing all four matches their performances were full of determination, physicality, skill and speed.
This year captain Krisnan believes his side will be significantly improved.
“We will certainly be more organised and we will be more together as a team,” he said. “There will be more perfect set plays and better communication from us, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
For Korea, coach Chun Oh Seo has named prop Kwanyoung Na as captain. Winger Jeong Min Jang will be one to watch having scored four sensational tries in 2018.
“As always our boys will do their best,” said Seo. “I believe that as the match wears on we will see their true colours emerge and witness a performance that gets better and better.”
With Korea having finished second in 2018, they will be aiming to get the 2019 competition off to a winning start on home soil in Incheon.
“In the forwards, we have a strong set piece,” added Na.
“We are planning to take advantage of that from the outset. In the backs, we have big centres and fast wingers and, hopefully, this will be too much for Malaysia too.
“If we can successfully combine these advantages that we enjoy I am confident that as a team we can return a good result.”
The match will be streamed live on Asia Rugby’s Facebook page on Saturday.
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