Baber looking for strong finish to the IRB Sevens season
23 May 2008 10:00am
Wales Sevens coach Gareth Baber is hoping to guide Wales to a top eight finish in the final two tournaments of the IRB Sevens World Series in London and Edinburgh over the next two weekends.
Wales reached the Cup semi-finals at both tournaments last season and Baber is hoping his squad can lift their game to a similar level this time around. Wales play Moldova, Argentina and New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday in a bid to reach the Cup quarter-finals which take place on Sunday. Baber has selected a strong squad for these two tournaments, with former Blues fly-half Nick McLeod set to make his Wales Sevens debut and former regional teammate Andy Powell making his first international Sevens appearance since Wales returned to the IRB circuit three years ago. Northampton Saints' Will Harries will play his first IRB Sevens tournament after good performances at the RWC Sevens qualifier in Denmark two weeks ago. Baber has named 13 players in the two-tournament squad, with Tal Selley out of contention for London through injury but confident of playing a role at Edinburgh next weekend. Baber said: "We have had some good preparation for the tournament this week with practice matches against Canada and Australia. "Our objective for the season was to reach the Cup quarter-finals of our IRB tournaments. We haven't achieved the level of consistency we would have liked this season, but with more players available to us this time and playing close to home in England and Scotland, we are determined to finish the IRB season on a high. "Andy Powell is a powerful player and will give us a competitive edge in the air, while I'm confident Nick McLeod's game will suit sevens well. Will Harries performed well in Denmark and is an intelligent, all-round Sevens player. "Moldova are first up for us on Saturday morning so it's important to start strongly, while we know Argentina will provide a tough, physical challenge at lunchtime so we must be on top form for those two matches before we meet the Series leaders New Zealand later in the afternoon." After Edinburgh, Wales head to Tbilisi, Georgia for the next round of the European qualifying tournaments for RWC Sevens 2009 in Dubai. Wales Sevens squad for London (May 24/25) and Edinburgh Sevens (May 31/June 1) Johnathan Edwards (captain, Scarlets), Richie Pugh (Cardiff), Dafydd Hewitt (Blues), Andy Powell (Blues), James Merriman (Neath), Martin Roberts (Ospreys), Rhodri McAtee (Cornish Pirates), Aled Thomas (Dragons), Nick McLeod (Blues), Will Harries (Northampton Saints), James Lewis (Dragons), Aled Brew (Ospreys), Tal Selley (Dragons) For full tournament information, visit www.irbsevens.com