Morgan-Williams named in Wales Sevens side

Reuben Morgan-Williams is set to make his Wales sevens debut at FMG Stadium Waikato on Friday 25th January.

The Ospreys scrum-half features alongside fellow uncapped players Rio Dyer (Dragons) and Tom Rogers (Scarlets) whilst there is a return for Cardiff Blues back rower Sion Bennett. The Sydney Sevens will take place a week later on 2nd February.

Several of the personnel changes to the squad which competed in Dubai and Cape Town are in line with player development plans and crossover with the Wales U20 programme. Absentees due to injury include Ryan Conbeer and Jay Jones, with Afon Bagshaw's absence due to more positive news following the birth of his daughter.

Head coach Richie Pugh says: "Starting with a larger player base this season than we've had in the past has allowed us to prepare well for the forthcoming tournaments.

"Rio and Tom are coming in on the back of injuries, and both have pace and attributes that are well suited to the sevens game. Reuben, who's had quite a lot of regional experience, is rewarded for his form in training.

"With Afon's absence, the experience and physical presence of Sion Bennett is huge for this group. He last played four years ago, and in the time since he's been with Northampton Saints and Cardiff Blues.

"It's also good to bring back Mike Wilson from Aberavon, who experienced two World Series tournaments last year. He's an athlete who still trains as a sprinter, so I'm looking forward to seeing that x-factor he can bring."

In keeping with the opening two rounds of the series, Wales have another highly competitive pool to navigate, starting on the Friday with Cape Town champions Fiji (22:52 GMT). Viewers at home can set their clocks for an early start on Saturday when Wales face Australia (02:20) and Argentina (06:30).

"The benchmark has been set for this camp, with the boys having now had a taste of the World Series in Dubai and Cape Town," says Pugh, who will be supported by Dragons Academy coach and former Newport fly-half Matt O'Brien. "So the expectation is higher as we've all experienced the top level now. I'm expecting a step up in performance, but as with any pool there's a huge challenge and opportunity to do that against Fiji, Australia and Argentina.

"We showed in South Africa that we can compete with the best, with Australia having only beaten us in the last play of game, but we have to take those lessons and confidence into this tournament and challenge ourselves to perform."

Wales Sevens (Hamilton/Sydney):

Core Players: Joe Jenkins, Owen Jenkins, Ben Roach, Luke Treharne (c) Cardiff Blues: Dane Blacker, Sion Bennett, Dafydd Smith Dragons: Rio Dyer, George Gasson, Joe Goodchild Ospreys: Reuben Morgan-Williams Scarlets: Tom Rogers Aberavon: Mike Wilson.