NEWPORT Gwent Dragons have turned to sevens specialist coach Nick Wakley to take charge of their challenge in the Premiership Rugby 7s, writes Chris Kirwan.
The 33-year-old former Newport, Pontypool and Ebbw Vale utility back will take the reins when the Dragons take on against their regional rivals at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday, July 26.
Wakley played sevens for Wales and since hanging up his boots has forged a career as a coach in the shortened format, most recently with Samurai 7s in the GB Series.
He played for Kingsley Jones at Sale in 2005/6 and the Dragons head coach was happy to utilise his expertise for the regional tournament.
The squad at Wakely's disposal will be a mixture of Dragons academy talent and seasoned sevens campaigners including Rhys Jones and new Newport recruit Sam Cross, both of whom narrowly missed out on selection for the Commonwealth Games.
Wakley will be hoping that his spell as Dragons sevens coach is not confined to July as two Welsh regions will progress to the Series Final against six Aviva Premiership sides at Twickenham Stoop on Friday, August 8.
"It's great to be joining a well-established tournament (which is in its fifth year) and for the winners to have chance to compete against English sides at the Stoop," said Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies.
"It will be exciting for the young kids and is a terrific grounding school for future players as it gives them the opportunity to show their talent in a high-profile tournament."
The draw has given the Dragons back-to-back fixtures with their clash against the Ospreys taking place 10 minutes after their opener against the Scarlets. Their meeting with hosts Cardiff Blues closes the event.
Game 1 – Ospreys v Blues (7.15pm), game 2 – Dragons v Scarlets (7.40pm), game 3 – Dragons v Ospreys (8.10pm), game 4 – Blues v Scarlets (8.35pm), game 5 – Ospreys v Scarlets (9.05pm), game 6 – Dragons v Blues (9.30pm).
Season ticket holders at all four regions can buy seated tickets for £5 (£3 for concessions) with entry costing £10 (£5 concessions) for other spectators. Terrace tickets cost £4 for adult season ticket holders and £8 for other spectators.
Go to cardiffblues.com or call 02920302030 for more information.