Final four primed for Sevens outing
July 24, 2012
Gloucester have unleashed Jonny May for the Sevens © Getty Images
J.P Morgan Sevens Series
The remaining four Aviva Premiership teams take to the stage at Kingsholm on Thursday looking to book their place in the final of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Sevens Series.
London Irish, London Welsh, Saracens and Sale Sharks have already booked their place in the final and they will be joined by two of Gloucester, Bath, Worcester Warriors and the Exeter Chiefs. Bath qualified for the final last year but it was the Newcastle Falcons who took the competition. With the Falcons relegated, there will be a new name on the trophy this time around and Gloucester have set out their stall with a strong squad.
Their party features first-teamers Freddie Burns, Jonny May and Henry Trinder with former England centre Mike Tindall - who is taking on a player/coach role at Kingsholm this season - also getting the nod. Gloucester supporters will also get the opportunity to see new signings Huia Edmonds and Shane Monahan. And Gloucester boss Nigel Davies has emphasised the importance of the competition for his charges.
"The important thing about 7s as well is that it challenges the skill set of a player because you are very exposed out there," Davies said. "You need to be able to execute your two-on-ones, to make your tackles, to deal with the contact area. Miss a tackle and a try is scored, there's no margin for error.
"There's also the level of conditioning that the players require. It's a unique, hard and entertaining sport to watch and a form of the game that's going to form a significant part of our own pre-season training. It's a very important occasion"
They will face their perennial rivals Bath and the West Country side have also named a strong squad. Monster wing Matt Banahan is named with flyer Tom Biggs and former rugby league star Kyle Eastmond also getting the nod. Other first-teamers Olly Woodburn, Chris Cook, Guy Mercer and Mark McMillan are also included. Speaking about the tournament, Biggs said: "Sevens is a fantastic sport and to be honest it's a shame that you can't mix the two because I would love to still get the chance to play it from time to time. And that's why events like the Sevens are so important.
"It's going to be an Olympic sport soon enough so it's only going to get more popular and I think that's fantastic. It's a great sport in its own right but the skills that it brings to the XV man game can't be discounted either, both in terms of handling the ball but also your fitness. It helps in all areas of the game really and when I went away in 2008 to do a full year on the circuit I came back so much fitter and a better all-round player."
Worcester Warriors have undergone huge change behind the scenes over the summer with Richard Hill heading up a new coaching team and he has opted to blood new signings David Lemi and Josh Matavesi in the competition. Fellow first-teamers Neil Best, Errie Claassens and Sevens specialist Josh Drauniniu also get the nod.
Bath have unleashed Matt Banahan in the Sevens © Getty Images
The line-up is completed by the Exeter Chiefs who feature Henry Slade and Jack Arnott who impressed in the tournament last year. Alongside Arnott and Slade will be the likes of Joel Conlon, Luke Treharne, Mike Pope and Aron Struminski - all of whom have previous experience of playing Sevens.
Bath Rugby: Matt Banahan, Ollie Devoto, Guy Mercer, James Tyas, Will Skuse, Tom Baldwin, Mark McMillan, Olly Woodburn, Chris Cook, Tom Biggs, Richard Lane, Kyle Eastmond
Exeter Chiefs: Sam Blanchet, Toby Bain, Connor Hartley, Mike Pope, Luke Treharne, Jack Arnott, Henry Slade, Aron Struminski, Rob Coote, Justin Blanchet, Joel Conlon, Rob Beddard
Gloucester Rugby: Matt Cox, Huia Edmonds, Shane Monahan, Gareth Evans, Rob Langley, Mike Tindall, Dan Robson, Henry Trinder, Ross Moriarty, Freddie Burns, Jonny May (captain), Ian Clark
Worcester Warriors: Jake Abbott (captain), Ollie Hayes, Josh Drauniniu, David Lemi, Ollie Frost, Errie Claassens, Tom Carlisle, Josh Matavesi, Joe Nellany, Neil Best, Andy Short, Ben Howard
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