The Welsh leg of the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park this Friday is loaded with experience, proven try-scorers, some of the country’s best youngsters and Wales internationals.
Newport Gwent Dragons
Aled Brew, who has been capped nine times for Wales, will augment a strong Newport Gwent Dragons side aiming to defend their Singha 7s crown this year.
The 29-year-old also brings serious pedigree to the tournament, having won the 2009 Rugby World Cup 7s with Wales, and joins a host of familiar faces who helped the Dragons to success in 2015.
The team will again be captained by Geraint Rhys Jones after he helped the Dragons become the first Welsh region to hoist the Singha 7s trophy aloft.
And recently-crowned 2015 Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Player of the Series, Elliot Frewen, is back in the mix after he touched down four times across the Dragons’ three games at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park last year.
Harrison Keddie – who scored the last-ditch try against Wasps to clinch the Series Final – also returns, new signing Darran Harris will make his first appearance in a Dragons’ shirt and will be joined by first-team wing Ross Wardle.
The home crowd will be cheering on a competitive Cardiff Blues’ squad on Friday, which includes three current Wales 7s internationals.
Owen Jenkins and Ben Roach – they scored two tries apiece in the Welsh leg of the competition last year – are joined by Adam Thomas, who played for the Blues in the PRO12 last year before returning to the Wales 7s scene.
Pontypridd full-back Geraint Walshe also links up with a squad that is primarily formed of some of the Welsh region’s most promising talent.
And according to Blues’ 7s coach Richard Hodges, the hope is that the Wales 7s trio at his disposal will help inspire the next generation at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
Hodges said: “We are lucky to have Adam Thomas, Owen Jenkins and Ben Roach, who are Cardiff Blues boys and have experience on the 7s stage. We’ve recruited them to be the real leaders in the group.”
Scarlets joined the Dragons at the Series Final last year and are once again stocked with some of the best regional club talent, with seven players who featured in 2015 returning for Friday’s opener.
Iolo Evans, of Carmarthen Quins, returns to take up the skipper’s armband and is an established 7s player having represented Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Llandovery’s Aaron Warren – who scored four tries in total last year – is another name to watch out for, and up-and-coming Scarlets centre Matthew Owen is included after also appearing in the 2015 Series Final.
“As a region we’re very much looking forward to the evening,” said Scarlets 7s coach Dai Flanagan. “We had a successful run in this competition last year and it set a feel-good factor within the region.
“We won the first six games and the confidence spread through the group and hopefully we can repeat that this year.”
The Ospreys have put together an intriguing squad captained by wing Dafydd Howells, who has been capped by Wales in both the 7s and 15-man version of the game.
Howells, now 21, made his Ospreys debut as a 17-year old before becoming one of Wales' youngest-ever full internationals when he was capped against Japan in 2013.
But the international class does not stop there – former Wales centre Jonathan Spratt gets the nod as does Ospreys full-back and Wales 7s international Morgan Williams.
Williams, 20, has appeared in both previous Wales legs alongside Joe Gage – another man to keep an eye on having represented Wales at Under-20s level.
Will Jones, James Ratti and Phil Jones also have age-group experience for their country while Aberavon wing Jay Baker, last season’s Principality Premiership Newcomer of the Year, could be the night’s surprise package.
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 22 July at Cardiff Arms Park with the Finals at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit premiershiprugby.com/singha7stickets
Statistics provided by Stuart Farmer Media Services