Wales Sevens depart today for the first leg of a gruelling three week tournament which will see the Wales team play for the first time in the Gold Coast before travelling to Dubai and then on to another new venue at Port Elizabeth in South Africa.
Head Coach Paul John is looking forward to the challenges ahead and said:
“We’ve had a good pre-season being able to focus on sevens specific conditioning. We have been really pleased with the preparations. We were able to look at players under the IRB squad and a few of them have stepped up so we’ve been able to widen our squad.
“Hopefully we can be used as an environment to future develop players, to provide acceleration of players and for some core players, this is their bread and butter and they have decided to go down the sevens route so it’s exciting.”
Wales finished 7thlast year, an improvement of two places on the year before and Coach Paul John is asking for more of the same again this year:
“We had a long term plan to finish in the top seven by the end of 2012, that was our strategic and realistic plan but the last three tournaments, winning a plate in Adelaide and again two excellent results in the semi- finals in the last two tournaments, meant that we got a bit higher than we had anticipated” said John.
“The usual suspects Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will once again be going for glory no doubt. South Africa towards the end of last year, the fact that they have 22 full time sevens players paid dividends, at the end of a long year they were still playing consistently well.
“The main thing for us now this year is to maintain our 7th spot, I think that is a realistic aim, it will all depend on how we start.”
Wales’ Coaching team is unchanged from 2010 with Paul John as Head Coach, Gareth Williams and Richard Hodges assistant coaches, David Jenkins team manager, Wayne Procter conditioner, Mark Kinnaird analyst and Dan Jones physiotherapist. This tournament will test both management and players with the first leg of the sevens circuit consisting of three consecutive tournaments.
“Starting with three legs is going to be tough. Two legs is hard enough the way sevens is played at the moment, it’s a very physical game” said John.
“During the second and third week training wise it will be about regenerating energy supplies, it’ll be interesting to see who copes best with the three tournaments. We just have to use our players wisely.
“New Zealand, Fiji are always very difficult to beat. They have been playing in a few tournaments leading up to it in Samoa, Australia and others, this is invaluable international preparation for them. It makes it hard for Northern Hemisphere teams to get off to a flying start but we’re very much looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead.”
Wales Sevens Squad
- Richie Pugh- Scarlets
- Rhys Shellard- Cardiff RFC
- Will Price- Ospreys
- Owen Williams- Pontypridd
- Richard Smith- Cardiff RFC
- Tom Habberfield- Ospreys
- Alex Walker- Cardiff RFC
- Rhys Patchell- Blues
- Owen Williams- Blues
- Ifan Evans- NewportRFC
- Harry Robinson- Blues
- Tom Prydie- Ospreys