It’s not uncommon for Auckland club players to go on and achieve international honours in rugby league. Look at the Kiwis, Toa Samoa and Mate Ma’a Tonga squads, and you’ll see a whole lot of them.
But Richmond winger Mike Tsang’s appearance for Hong Kong at the Emerging Nations World Championship stands out, and his story is a cracking one. Savannah Tafau-Levy tells it here.
I started my rugby league journey seven years ago at the Mt Albert Lions. For me, it was uncommon to see Asians play rugby league, so the idea of breaking the stereotype was a huge motivation for me. I also wanted to get involved with the sport to fit into New Zealand society and culture, as I’m not originally from here. I then transferred to the Richmond Rovers two years later.
Talk us through how the Hong Kong opportunity came up.
Opportunities through rugby league started to flow for me, representing the New Zealand Dragons at the Cabramatta Nines a few years ago is where I first heard about Hong Kong having a league team. Earlier this year, I went to Hong Kong for a weekend to trial for the team, and from there I was lucky enough to be selected to represent Hong Kong in the Emerging Nations Rugby League World Cup.
What does it mean to you to represent Hong Kong?
It’s an awesome feeling to be given the opportunity to represent my home country, especially in rugby league. Rugby league has been such a huge part of my life since I moved to New Zealand and it’s been massive since. I moved to New Zealand from an orphanage, Po Leung Kuk, and could have never of dreamed that I would represent Hong Kong in a sport we are not known for.
I must thank Waterview Laundromat and other personal sponsors, it’s awesome to see such a diverse group of people supporting me. I’m very grateful for my support group, including one of my role models, Suaia Matagi. He’s been there since the day I started this journey.
How’s the preparation been for the tournament?
Personally, it’s taken a lot of preparation due to the fact I am the only Hong Kong player who is based in New Zealand. Most of my team are based in Hong Kong. Earlier this year, they were selected from the local league competition. A few of the boys based in Australia also joined the team, and we are looking competitive.
How was your season with Richmond, and how has that helped with your preparation?
It’s been a long season playing for the Richmond Tokes, we did pretty well for the amount of players we had due to other family commitments. Playing for the GI Falcons on Sundays every so often helped with my preparation as well.