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News article - Style G 2696

22nd March 2007

Three Wales players will make their Sevens debuts in the forthcoming Hong Kong tournament - Pontypridd and Blues outside half Dai Flanagan, Dragons centre James Lewis and Scarlets flanker Rob McKusker.

Cardiff and Blues full back Jamie Roberts will take part in his second international Sevens tournament having travelled to George, South Africa last season, while regular Sevens tourists of last season, scrum half Wayne Evans and flanker James Merriman, will take part in their first tournaments of the season.

Wales Rees, who is assistant coach at the Dragons, has named his 12-man squad for the Hong Kong and Adelaide IRB Sevens tournaments but will miss the Hong Kong leg of the IRB Sevens circuit due to the Dragons' European quarter-final against Brive leaving assistant Gareth Baber in charge of the young squad at the Hong Kong Sevens. Rees will join the squad in Adelaide for the Australian leg of the Series.

Rees said: "Using international Sevens as a development tool is clearly working when you look at the likes of Aled Thomas, Tom James and Martyn Thomas. Aled Thomas was playing his rugby at Cross Keys before he came to Dubai and George in December but now he is playing regular regional rugby with the Dragons.

"In that respect, the Sevens squad is a victim of its own success but I'm sure this round of two tournaments will open doors for other players taking part.

"Jamie Roberts missed out on earlier Sevens duty this season due to injury but I'm sure this exposure will give his rugby a boost. It is perhaps the opportunity he needs to stake his claim for a place on the summer tour to Australia.

"Another player with potential is outside half Dai Flanagan. As with Aled Thomas last time round, this experience will hopefully give Dai the confidence he needs to get some regional rugby under his belt.

"It is good to see the likes of Wayne Evans and James Merriman back in the squad who will add some experience to the side."

"Traditionally, everyone raises their game for the Hong Kong Sevens, but we have set ourselves a target of a top eight finish in at least one of these tournaments.

"It will be a tall order in terms of our Pools but we will certainly want to continue with the momentum of bringing a trophy back from each tournament, as we have done since our return to the Sevens circuit at the start of last season."