Sevens coach Paul John returns to the scene of Wales’s greatest triumph in the abbreviated game when the 2009-10 IRB Sevens World Series kicks off in Dubai tomorrow.
Wales upset the odds when they claimed the World Cup in March and now John returns with a completely new-look squad hoping to move up the world rankings. It’s going to be tough from the outset as current series champions South Africa are first up for Wales.
“Our squad has completely changed. The players have moved on since the World Cup. There is no pressure on the boys,” John said. “It is unfortunate we are in the same group as South Africa but every group is tough,” he added.
“We look forward to the first game. It’s going to be a massive learning curve. When you play against the best side, you develop better as a player. The boys should be looking forward to it. We hope to push them all the way.”
Australia and Arabian Gulf are Wales other opponents in pool play at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Rugby Sevens which will see Craig Hill as the only surviving member from the World Cup squad.
“We’ve got only Craig Hill from the World Cup winning team and a few others, about four, who have played international Sevens before with a bit of experience and then eight brand new ones who have never played international Sevens, so hopefully they’ll be able to perform on this stage.
“If they do well and are at a high standard, their careers are going to get accelerated,” said John.
“We’re not putting any pressure on these boys because we have to be realistic as this is a brand new squad; brand new players, so hopefully what we’ll have is a team that is trying to improve and I hope we can do that as the year goes on.
“Dubai is going to be the first tournament for most of the team and if we can keep this group together, then we’ll start getting better and better as the year progresses. The more they’ll play the better they’ll get, so that’s the aim.”