Hong Kong Sevens preview: Largest Sevens event of the season welcomes 28 sides to Hong Kong

The home of Sevens Rugby, Hong Kong, host their leg of the series this weekend, with the big sides aligning themselves ahead of the Olympics

Hong Kong Sevens preview: Largest Sevens event of the season welcomes 28 sides to Hong Kong
The captain's lineup ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens (image via: WorldSevensTwitter)

The seventh leg of the 2015-16 Sevens Series heads to Hong Kong this weekend in the first half of the Asian stretch of the series. 

The sides should be refreshed after almost a month off since the incredible Vancouver Sevens, which made its debut as a host on the circuit, meaning teams should be at their best as the chances to impress ahead of the Rio Olympics diminish. 

With four tournament's still to play this season, it is still Fiji who remain at the top of the overall standings with 106 points accumulated so far. Behind them in second are South Africa with 105 points, and New Zealand sit third on 104 despite having won more titles than any other nation this year so far. 

Sonny Bill Williams return leads exciting team news

With one eye on Rio, combinations are still being forged, and players still being given opportunitites to state their case for Olympic inclusion. 

One man who is closer to living out the Olympic dream, is Sonny Bill Williams who makes an instant return to the New Zealand 12-man squad after overcoming his injuries. Williams' return coincides with the selection of Pita Akhi, who will play Sevens for his nation for the first time since the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

Hong Kong marks the return of Sonny Bill Williams (image via: stuff.co.nz)

Fiji also welcome back a trio of their stars who missed the Vancouver leg in the form of Semi Kunatani, Apisai Domolailai and Vatemo Ravouvou

South Africa hand a debut to Siviwe Soyizwapi, who takes the place of Bryan Habana, whilst Ryan Kankowski makes his seasonal bow, with Rosko Specman missing out. 

Former NFL star Nate Ebner makes the quick switch to Sevens, and is selected in the USA squad, whilst the 'Honey-Badger' Nick Cummins is included in the Australian 12 alongside debutant Frankie Winterstein

Samoa have named the least experienced of the squads in the main competition, but that does include the ultra-exciting Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa who was the best player on show in Canada

On the European front, England's talismanic leader Tom Mitchell returns from injury in a big boost for his side, whilst France have named Virimi Vakatawa amongst their squad after his breakthrough Six Nations campaign. 

Boks draw European trio

In the main draw, South Africa will battle it out with England, Russia and Scotland to grab the two qualification positions from Pool B. 

Pool A sees New Zealand face Samoa, France and Kenya in a battle for two quarter-final spots, while Pool C includes Australia, Argentina, USA and Portugal

Korea, who have been invited as a 'home side' have been drawn in Pool D alongside Fiji, Wales and Canada

Hong Kong is also home to the qualifier event, where one winner will be a full-member of the Sevens Series for 2016/17 and will take part in all competitions. 

The qualifier tournament sees Germany, Spain, Mexico and Cayman Islands in one pool, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Brazil and Chile in another, with Morocco, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong and Japan completing the lineup.