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Patriots' Nate Ebner to make rugby return in Hong Kong

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner will make his return to rugby in the Hong Kong 10s as he looks to secure a spot in the USA Sevens side for Rio 2016.

Ebner has taken a leave of absence from his NFL duties at the Patriots to focus on rugby as he chases his dream of competing in the Olympics. He has been in training with the USA Sevens team but will play his first competitive action in a 10s tournament at the Hong Kong Football Club which takes place across Apr. 6-7.

He will play for the Samurai side in the centres in a team including four England sevens players -- James Cordy-Redden, Cameron Cowell, Ben Foley, John Brake -- and Canada's Hubert Buydens, who captained the side in the recent Americas Rugby Championship.

"We have a great relationship with [England Sevens head coach] Simon Amor and England Sevens that has rolled over from my days as team manager and we're so pleased that he agreed to release a few of his contracted players for us for the GFI HKFC 10s," Samurai boss Terry Sands said. "To then get a call from [USA Sevens head coach] Mike Friday to confirm that Nate Ebner was available was the icing on the cake for us in our 20th anniversary year."

It will be Ebner's first competitive rugby action since 2012 when he was drafted by the Patriots. Prior to that he featured for the USA Sevens side and played XV rugby in international age-grade tournaments.

The Hong Kong 10s has a rich history of featuring some of the biggest names in the sport. Seven of the All Blacks squad that won the 2015 World Cup have played in the competition while the likes of Wallabies legend Joe Roff, the great Jonah Lomu and Sevens master Waisale Serevi have all run out in the Hong Kong 10s since the inaugural tournament in 1986.