CENTRE Mike Waywell, who is back with Fylde RFC for the rest of the season, has been reflecting on his time playing in Hong Kong and the sadness surrounding his trip there.
He played for the same club side in the Far East, Kowloon, as his friend David Tait.
It was Tait who invited Waywell to play there, but he did not live long enough to see the side he captained win the Hong Kong Premiership.
Tate, the former Sale Sharks player who worked as corporate finance manager, died after falling from an apartment block in December, a tragedy shocked the rugby community to its core.
Waywell reflected: “I played with David at Sale – that’s how I knew him initially – and he was the person who coaxed me over to Hong Kong.
“He was a good friend and was the reason I moved over there in the first place. It was saddening for me and all the rest of the lads, but they have done him proud and gone on to win the Premiership, which is the best tribute they could give him as a team.”
Visa problems meant Waywell’s appearances in the Kowloon first XV were strictly limited. He also played for the second team, who also won their title.
Waywell said: “There were complications that prevented me playing in the first team but I got involved with the seconds.
“Hong Kong is a wonderful place, though I am not sure I would want to live there long-term.
“It is densely populated, probably over-populated I would say, but it was nice to get out of the UK and experience a different part of the world.
“I couldn’t play as much rugby as I thought I would, but it was a good trip and I’m glad I did it.”
Waywell’s first match back at Fylde was one to forget as they lost 52-19 at Cindeford. However, they hit back last weekend by winning a hard-fought home contest with Wharfedale 25-21.
Waywell said: “I am glad to be back in the mix. The Wharfedale game was certainly a better performance than Cinderford. That was a long away journey and a few of the players were new to me.
“But everyone was helpful in training before the Wharfedale game. Their no.7 (Dan Solomi) was a bit of a problem for us at the breakdown, especially in the first half, but I thought we counteracted him better in the second half.
“We got a bit scrappy in the end but it was not a bad performance.”
Waywell says he is happy at Fylde but is keeping his options open, with the possibility of playing at Championship level with Leeds.
He said: “Even though I am not from round here, Fylde is my adopted club and I have been here since I was 19, so I will always feel at home here. Playing alongside Richard Kenyon is always something I enjoy.”
Waywell has had a spell training with Leeds and explained: “They invited me to play in the British-Irish Cup but I couldn’t because of work commitments.
“Leeds are still showing a bit of interest, but it all depends on how I play for the rest of the season.
“If I do well, hopefully I will get a chance and step up to the Championship; if not, I will stay at Fylde.”