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Richard Hodges: Cardiff Blues will be ready for free-scoring Sale Sharks in Singha 7s finals

The performance of Sale Shark Paolo Odogwu was one of the big stories to emerge from the group stages, but Cardiff Blues 7s coach Richard Hodges believes his side have the artillery to stop him during the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals this Sunday.

The best eight teams in the competition will descend on the Ricoh Arena and the Blues, who won three games out of three to qualify from the Welsh leg, have tweaked their squad for the finale.

Ethan Davies has been drafted in and joins fellow Wales 7s core stars Adam Thomas, Ben Roach and Owen Jenkins – offsetting the loss of some of the squad to Wales Under-18s duty.

And with former Australia 7s coach Billy Millard acting as team manager on the day in Coventry, the Blues possess a man who has been there and done it.

It’s just as well as Hodges and company will need to formulate a plan to first stop Sale’s Paolo Odogwu in their quarter-final, as the wing scored a record-breaking eight tries last weekend in Group D.

“Sale looked very dangerous, they put 50 points on Leicester Tigers, they had James Mitchell and he looked like the guy that they wanted to play through,” admitted Hodges.

“Paolo looked very strong, a very powerful unit and he racked up eight tries over the course of the tournament.

“We have a few new boys coming in for the trip to Coventry, but they are very experienced and it is going to be about getting the systems and structures as simple and effective as possible.

“It would be huge to win, it would be a great start to the season and hopefully it will help us push on and maybe get some of those youngsters 7s recognition with Wales.”

The Blues’ performances this year are already a huge improvement on 2015 after they lost all three of their games to finish rock bottom.

But according to Hodges, his side are not about to settle for a day out at the Ricoh.

“There are a couple of training sessions left before Sunday now and it is just about making sure we are as prepared as possible when we go out there,” he added.

“It was excellent to get three from three and to be the first guys to pull on a Cardiff Blues shirt for the season and they have rightly got the plaudits they deserve for that, which is why the senior guys were all down there watching.

“There is no better way of getting educated and informed about the quality of a player than in 7s.

“They did themselves proud in Cardiff and it would top it off to get some silverware.” 

Eight teams will play for the first silverware of the season in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals from 2pm at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on Sunday 7 August. For tickets visit wasps.co.uk/tickets

Quarter Final 1 – Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks
Quarter Final 2 – Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints
Quarter Final 3 – Harlequins v Wasps
Quarter Final 4 – Newcastle Falcons v Ospreys

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