Hartlepool’s united rugby side will face Thai, Australian and Kazakhstan opposition on day one of the Bangkok International Rugby Sevens.

The squad are this weekend taking part in the major tournament for the second time after winning the Shield final on their debut 12 months ago.

Hartlepool have been drawn in Group Two of the International section, where they will face Kazakh outfit, Asiasport Almaty, Central Queensland Dingoes and Thailand side All For One, who were runners up in the entire tournament in 2017.

It is a testing draw for the United side, made up from four Hartlepool and District sides, though they have avoided defending champions, the Pacific Warriors, who are in Group One with Spanish team Wiss, the Royal Thai Police and Confrerie Occitan from France.

Team manager, John Bickerstaff, said: “It’s a difficult draw, but whoever we got was going to be tough.

“The Bangkok Sevens is a great international rugby tournament and we’re proud to be representing Hartlepool and the UK out here.

“Sevens is exciting rugby and the lads can’t wait to get going.”

Hartlepool defeated Laos team, Lao Nagas to clinch silverware at the Patana International School last November and three members of that squad, including skipper Brad Green, are back in Thailand again.

Green will be joined by Horden & Peterlee club-mate, Sean McCallum, plus West Hartlepool players Adam Jackson-Smith, Lee Maddison and Peter Youll, Shane Jeffrey from Boys Brigade Old Boys and Ryan Foreman, Aaron Jeffrey, Patrick O'Callaghan, Taz Pelser and Callum Whitehead from Hartlepool Rovers.

Hartlepool’s entry into this competition is the brainchild of Alby Pattison MBE, the founder and MD of event sponsor Hart Biologicals.

Bickerstaff paid tribute to all the Hartlepool sponsors, notably, Seymours Civil Engineering, J & B Recycling and Saica Packaging.

“Without our sponsors this would not be possible,” said Bickerstaff. “It’s been great having Hartlepool companies getting right behind Hartlepool lads.”

The squad will be raising money for Prostate Cancer UK and will have the famous PCUK logo on their jerseys.

“The players felt strongly about supporting Prostate Cancer UK.

“As the stats say, one of the pack will suffer from prostate cancer and we want to play our small part in trying to beat this disease.

“Prostate Cancer UK are putting millions into research and promoting awareness and we felt in Movember, the month when so many people grow moustaches to raise money, that we can do our bit in Thailand.”