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Paul John selects three Cardiff Blues players in Wales Sevens squad

19th November 2008

Wales Sevens head coach Paul John has announced a youthful side for his first set of IRB Sevens World Series tournaments - in Dubai and George.

Cardiff Blues squad member Dai Flannagan, Damien Welch and Dafydd Hewitt are all included in the Wales Sevens squad. Jimmy Norris, Jason Tovey and Rhys Webb, all members of the Wales Under 20 Junior World Championship squad last June, are set to make their Wales Sevens debuts at the new Dubai stadium 'The Sevens' next weekend, while Cardiff's Damien Welch, Aberavon's Chris Davies and Newport's Craig Hill will also make their first appearances in a Wales Sevens shirt.

Neath's James Merriman has been made captain of the side, and also included are twins Roberts and James Lewis (Dragons), David Flanagan (Blues), Rhodri McAtee (Cornish Pirates) and Dave Evans (Neath) who all have previous international Sevens experience, along with Blues centre Dafydd Hewitt who will join the squad for the second of the two tournaments, in George, South Africa.

John took over the Sevens role earlier this season and is looking forward to experiencing international Sevens competition at first hand:

"Our fundamental aim is to develop regional and international players so this is a great opportunity for some of these young players," he said.

"We have seen the benefit Sevens has given to the likes of James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Chris Czekaj and Aled Brew, if we can produce more regional or international players this year, we'll be doing our job.

"We have had some limited but very productive training sessions and the coaches and players have responded brilliantly to Sevens training. Colin Hillman has been a great help too, passing on some of his expert advice on the shortened game.

"It would be great to put a marker down and improve our ranking at these tournaments as everything we do from now on will count for our Rugby World Cup Sevens seedings, but at the same time, the environment is going be a new experience for a lot of these players, they will be thrown in at the deep end in many ways so whatever happens, this will be a huge learning curve."

Wales Sevens squad for IRB Sevens World Series tournaments in Dubai (November 28, 29) and George, South Africa (December 5, 6):

James Merriman (capt, Neath), David Flanagan (Blues), James Lewis (Dragons), Robert Lewis (Dragons), Jimmy Norris (Dragons), Jason Tovey (Dragons), Rhodri McAtee (Cornish Pirates), Dave Evans (Neath), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Damien Welch (Cardiff), Chris Davies (Aberavon), Craig Hill (Newport), Dafydd Hewitt (Blues, George only)