8:49am Saturday 5th July 2014
WALES Sevens boss Gareth Williams is backing his team to mix it with the big boys in their bid to be on the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
World champions New Zealand have won gold in all four previous Games and are hot favourites to be triumphant at Ibrox on July 26 and 27.
But South Africa are hoping to call on the services of Springboks legend Bryan Habana and Saracens star Schalk Brits, England will be powerful and hosts Scotland have included Lions full-back Stuart Hogg.
Wales, who endured a tricky year in the IRB World Series, have some talented players of their own and have selected former Newport Gwent Dragons players Jevon Groves and Will Harries in their 12-strong squad.
The pair, whose contracts with the Rodney Parade region expired at the end of last season, will return to shortened format along with Cardiff Blues fly-half Gareth Davies.
Williams hopes that they can help Wales upset the odds, just like they did when winning the 2009 World Cup in Dubai.
"It's a strong tournament and that's exciting," said the head coach, whose side have been drawn against Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia.
"We are driving towards the quarter-finals and sevens games are one-off events; if we can get it right then we can put ourselves in a position to create history.
"New Zealand have won gold in every Games and are the top team in the World Series. They are an impressive unit but when we get to them we will work a way how to try and do it, which we did in the World Cup (quarter-finals) in 2009.
"We have got the group of players, we've got the preparation time, we've got the intensity in training – we are looking to challenge everyone who comes in our way."
Williams was at pains to stress how tough selecting a 12-strong squad was and paid tribute to a pair of Gwent players that narrowly missed the cut.
Cross Keys utility back Rhys Jones failed to get the nod despite returning to fitness after rupturing knee ligaments playing for Wales in Japan while Sam Cross, who is from Ebbw Vale, also sits out Glasgow despite impressing in the IRB Series, where he was named by his teammates as their player of the Japan and Hong Kong tournaments.
"We've had a lot of competition with up to 23 players going for 12 places," said Williams. "It was tough telling the boys that are missing out.
"It's a real shame because Rhys has worked his socks off since suffering the injury in Tokyo. He has put a real shift in to be back in contention for the Games.
"Another tough one was Sam, who misses out after playing the full series on the IRB Series and coming on leaps and bounds this year."
Wales Sevens Commonwealth Games squad: Adam Thomas (captain, Cardiff Blues),Craig Price (Scarlets), Iolo Evans (Carmarthen Quins), James Davies (Scarlets), Jevon Groves (Cardiff Blues), Luke Treharne (Exeter University), Lee Williams (Carmarthen Quins), Gareth Davies (Cardiff Blues), Will Harries (Unattached), Gareth Owen (Scarlets), Luke Morgan (Bridgend), Alex Webber (Pontypridd)
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