Opportunity knocks at Premiership 7s for Griffiths and young Dragons

Free Press Series: Newport RFC v Pontypridd RFC.  Pictured is Newport player No 7 Oliver Griffiths breaking out of his own half. (5594967) Newport RFC v Pontypridd RFC. Pictured is Newport player No 7 Oliver Griffiths breaking out of his own half. (5594967)

OPENSIDE Ollie Griffiths hopes to take a first step towards emulating a pair of Newport Gwent Dragons friends and rivals by catching the eye for the region in the Premiership Rugby 7s.

The 19-year-old from Newbridge narrowly missed the cut for the Junior World Championship this summer but his time should come in Italy next year.

Griffiths was capped against England, Ireland and Scotland in the Under-20s Six Nations but his older Dragons back row teammates Scott Matthews and James Benjamin, both 20, got the nod for this summer's tournament in New Zealand.

The trio have all impressed in the Principality Premiership – Griffiths for Newport, Matthews for Cross Keys and Benjamin for Bedwas – and are among the youthful brigade hoping to enjoy some senior regional action in 2014/15.

Being forced to wait for Junior World Championship action may have been a blow for Griffiths but it has given him a head-start in the build-up to next season.

He has already been grafting hard alongside seasoned back row campaigners Andy Powell and Lewis Evans at the Dragons' new training base in Ystrad Mynach and is set to feature in the inaugural Welsh leg of the Premiership 7s.

Griffiths and his fellow young tyros will be looking to give a timely nudge to coaches Lyn and Kingsley Jones by going well at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday, July 26.

He said: "We don't know what the squad will be yet but I am sure there will be a lot of youngsters looking to put their hands up by impressing. It's a good chance to show what we can do.

"I don't have too much sevens experience but I like to play open rugby and I'm looking forward to it.

"The boys have been working hard on our conditioning, which will stand us in good stead for a fast game of sevens on the 4G surface.

"I only had three weeks off before starting pre-season training but it's been good; the new facilities in Ystrad Mynach are first-class and I already feel I've learnt a lot even though we've only just starting doing a bit of rugby.

"I've got another year with the Under-20s, so hopefully I can push on this year and be in the Junior World Championship squad next time."

Game 1 – Ospreys v Blues (7.15pm), game 2 – Dragons v Scarlets (7.40pm), game 3 – Dragons v Ospreys (8.10pm), game 4 – Blues v Scarlets (8.35pm), game 5 – Ospreys v Scarlets (9.05pm), game 6 – Dragons v Blues (9.30pm).

Season ticket holders at all four regions can buy seated tickets for £5 (£3 for concessions) with entry costing £10 (£5 concessions) for other spectators.

Terrace tickets cost £4 for adult season ticket holders and £8 for other spectators.

Go to cardiffblues.com or call 02920302030 for more information.

CARDIFF Blues and Wales centre Owen Williams has been transferred from University Hospital of Wales to the specialist spinal rehabilitation unit at Rookwood Hospital in the capital.

The 22-year-old, who has won four caps, suffered a "significant injury" to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord at a pre-season tournament in Singapore last month.

"Messages of support from the rugby community and wider world continue to be a huge source of inspiration for Owen, his family and friends at this time," read a Cardiff Blues statement.

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