The Welsh Rugby Union has signed up 12 core sevens players for the forthcoming IRB Sevens World Series, which kicks off on Friday in Australia.
This is the first time the WRU has contracted core players to play specific tournaments throughout the year.
The introduction of core contracts means players are committed to Sevens as their chosen avenue.
Those associated with a region or club will be available for selection firstly for any upcoming Sevens tournament, illustrating the major commitment to Wales to the abbreviated version of the game.
The core contracts have been introduced to develop some consistency within the sevens squad, with the view of creating a more settled team.
"This is part of our core strategy going forward in both the men's and the women's game. This is stage three of a five stage process leading up to the Olympics," said Head of Rugby Joe Lydon.
"It is important over a period of four years that we returned to the circuit, we can have dual aims both for 15-a-side and Sevens but we're very mindful that sevens takes a degree of specialism and it is important a squad can train together over prolonged period as there will be more likely to gel and therefore develop into a winning side.
"This is an important part of development, the numbers, the time played are all reduced in sevens however, contact and passing is heightened, testing players and accelerating development.
"Unfortunately 50 percent of our core players are carrying injury through being heavily used in a unique rugby world cup year but beyond this we are confident we will see an increased benefit to contracting these core players. We are hopeful that halfway through the season we should start to see the benefits of having a settled and cohesive squad."
Wales Sevens head out to Australia today for the first leg of a gruelling three week tournament which will see the Wales team play for the first time in the Gold Coast before travelling to Dubai and then on to another new venue at Port Elizabeth in South Africa.
Head coach Paul John is looking forward to the challenges ahead and said: "We've had a good pre-season being able to focus on sevens specific conditioning. We have been really pleased with the preparations. We were able to look at players under the IRB squad and a few of them have stepped up so we've been able to widen our squad.
"Hopefully we can be used as an environment to future develop players, to provide acceleration of players and for some core players, this is their bread and butter and they have decided to go down the sevens route so it's exciting."
Wales finished seventh last year, an improvement of two places on the year before and Coach Paul John is asking for more of the same again this year:
"We had a long term plan to finish in the top seven by the end of 2012, that was our strategic and realistic plan but the last three tournaments, winning a plate in Adelaide and again two excellent results in the semi finals in the last two tournaments, meant that we got a bit higher than we had anticipated" said John.
"The usual suspects Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will once again be going for glory no doubt. South Africa towards the end of last year, the fact that they have 22 full time sevens players paid dividends, at the end of a long year they were still playing consistently well.
"The main thing for us now this year is to maintain our 7th spot, I think that is a realistic aim, it will all depend on how we start."
Wales' coaching team is unchanged from 2010 with Paul John as head coach, Gareth Williams and Richard Hodges assistant coaches, David Jenkins team manager, Wayne Procter conditioner, Mark Kinnaird analyst and Dan Jones physiotherapist. This tournament will test both management and players with the first leg of the sevens circuit consisting of three consecutive tournaments.
"Starting with three legs is going to be tough. Two legs is hard enough the way sevens is played at the moment, it's a very physical game" said John.
"During the second and third week training wise it will be about regenerating energy supplies, it'll be interesting to see who copes best with the three tournaments. We just have to use our players wisely.
"New Zealand, Fiji are always very difficult to beat. They have been playing in a few tournaments leading up to it in Samoa, Australia and others, this is invaluable international preparation for them. It makes it hard for Northern Hemisphere teams to get off to a flying start but we're very much looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead."
Welsh squad travelling to Australia: Richie Pugh, Rhys Shellard, Will Price, Owen Williams, Richard Smith, Tom Haberfield, Alex Walker, Rhys Patchell, Owen Williams, Ifan Evans, Harry Robinson, Tom Prydie.
Core contracted players: Alex Cuthbert, Richie Pugh, Adam Thomas, Rhodri Gomer Davies, Lee Williams, Rhys Jones, Nicky Griffiths, Alex Walker, Callum Thomas, Warren Davies, Ifan Evans, Rhys Shellard.
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