By Phil Gilbank

AFTER flying 6,000 miles to get some game time, former Pocklington RUFC player and England junior international Lewis Wilson managed just 15 minutes of action for his new Hong Kong club before the region went into lockdown and suspended all sport.

While his former Pocklington teammates sat at home waiting for rugby in England to restart, Wilson signed a five-month contract with Sandy Bay RFC to play in the Hong Kong Premiership.

After flying out at the beginning of November, he went straight into two weeks of quarantine before joining up with his new teammates.

It had been a difficult couple of years both professionally and personally for the 22-year-old from Newton-upon-Derwent.

He came through Pocklington's mini and junior section to play for Yorkshire and the North of England while at Woldgate School, then took up a sixth form scholarship at Pocklington School, where he progressed to full England Under-18 and U19 honours.

After leaving school he was given a long-term deal with Championship club Yorkshire Carnegie, but that was torn up when the Leeds outfit went into administration.

He was voted their Player of the Year during his time at Headingley, when he also helped coach at York RI RUFC.

He played for Rotherham Titans last term, but the South Yorkshire club decided to not wait for a resumption and shut up shop for the 2019/20 season.

The powerful back-row forward - who comes from a family steeped in Pocklington rugby union tradition - had interest from clubs in England, Canada and Spain before deciding to take up the Hong Kong offer.

He was desperate to get back into action. Before his initial training session with Sandy Bay - the 2019 Premiership champions, based on the south side of Hong Kong, a stone's throw from the South China Sea - he said: "Two-hundred-and-twenty-six days and counting from my last time playing or training.

"Excited to be getting back into it with Sandy Bay in the coming weeks."

Just a week later and his wish became a reality as he came off the bench to play the last 15 minutes of Sandy Bay's fixture at Kowloon.

He made an immediate impression with a couple of key turnovers as Sandy Bay won 23-12 to move into second place in the Premiership table.

But inside a week Hong Kong was plunged back into lockdown. Sports venues were closed and Hong Kong Premiership fixtures were suspended on December 2 until further notice, leaving Wilson with another wait to finally get in a full game of rugby.

He is keeping his fingers crossed that the game will resume in Hong Kong in the foreseeable future, but his New Year's Eve message back home was wistful. He said: "Taken part in only nine games of rugby through the 12 months of 2020 - 15 minutes' worth in the last 10 months."