HKCC skipper Liam Slatem eyes Hong Kong role as he battles back from knee injury
South African is key in 23-23 draw with HKFC as he tries to win a place in the city’s senior squad for next year’s November tests
Back playing after a serious knee injury kept him out of last season, Hong Kong Cricket Club captain Liam Slatem already has one eye on Hong Kong’s 2017 November tests.
That’s not to say leading his side through this year’s HKRU Premiership season is not at the forefront of the South African’s mind, but the ambitious 27-year-old is allowing himself to dream.
A year in to his time with the union’s elite rugby programme, Slatem is counting down the days until he is eligible to represent Hong Kong next August.
“The November tests will be the first tests I can play,” he said. “I would love to put the Hong Kong jersey on and play with my mates that I have been training with for a year, obviously play towards the bigger goal and hopefully achieve new things for Hong Kong rugby.”
While getting injured just after joining the programme was less than ideal for Slatem, there were some positives for the scrum half.
“It was great to be involved in the system and be able to rehab and really work on the fundamentals,” he said. “Now I’ve been back on the pitch I think I’m starting to feel the benefits.”
A realistic Slatem is by no means counting his chickens as to whether or not he will represent Hong Kong and the first-year captain is currently focused on growing into his new role.
“It’s a good challenge for me, I’m into my third season with Cricket Club and I’ve learnt a few things,” he said. “We have got a few leaders in the team so it makes life easier.”
From Cape Town, Slatem played in the Currie Cup for Griquas in 2011 and spent three years at the University of Cape Town Ikey Tigers before coming to Hong Kong just over two years ago.
He was industrious as HKCC played out a thrilling 23-23 draw with Natixis Hong Kong Football Club on Saturday, but disappointed to see his side give up a 17-6 lead.
“We want to make Aberdeen a bit of a fortress and we let them score soon after half-time and let them back in to the game,” he said.
“But we are building slowly, week by week so that’s a positive, but we are disappointed to come away with a draw.”
Slatem scored one of his side’s two tries, with the other a penalty try, while fullback James Love continued his sharp-shooting with 13 points.
Jevon Groves and Max Page were important in HKFC’s comeback and when Ben Axten-Burrett crossed in the second half, his side had the lead.
Page added the extras to put HKFC six points ahead, before Love held his nerve in the dying stages to twice split the sticks and level the scores.