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Page last updated at 06:22 GMT, Monday, 28 June 2010 07:22 UK

Rob McCusker & Will Harries want more Wales caps

McCusker on the charge against the All Blacks in Hamilton
Scarlet McCusker began his playing career at Mold RFC

Rising Welsh stars Rob McCusker and Will Harries have set their sights on more international honours after impressing on tour in New Zealand.

Scarlet McCusker and Newport Gwent Dragons wing Harries made their mark as replacements in Saturday's 29-10 loss.

McCusker said: "I'd like to think that being first choice number six at Scarlets puts you in contention."

Harries said: "I aim to keep playing well for the Dragons, and hopefully I'll get more chances with Wales."

McCusker, 24, impressed after replacing number eight and skipper Ryan Jones in the 25th minute of Wales' battling display in the second Test in Hamilton and is targeting the blindside flanker role.

Jonathan Thomas moved to number eight and McCusker aims to keep the Osprey out of the blindside spot, saying: "I feel more experienced after this tour.

"I'd like to think that being first choice number six at Scarlets puts you in contention for Wales."

McCusker was initially named by Wales coach Warren Gatland on a 50-man list of potential 2011 World Cup players, but an injury to Andy Powell gave McCusker his chance.

Powell, Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate, Joe Bearman and veteran Martyn Williams remain Wales back-row contenders along with Jones and tour stand-in Gavin Thomas.


But McCusker says whoever plays there in future must help Wales cut their penalty count after poor discipline let them down against the All Blacks in the second Test in Hamilton.

Thomas and Lee Byrne were sin-binned and Dan Carter kicked five penalties.

"New Zealand push you to the limit, and unfortunately when that happens, you give away penalties," he said

He came off the bench to win his first cap in Wales' 31-34 loss to South Africa on 5 June and admits it has been a difficult first international tour.

"It was right in the deep end but I've loved every minute of the tour," said McCusker, who believes Wales are closing the gap on the likes of New Zealand.

"I think there's still a gap, but we're closing it bit by bit," he said.

Harries marked a sparkling debut year with the Dragons by winning his first cap down under, coming on as a 69th-minute replacement for Ospreys teenager Tom Prydie.

Rob McCusker
Scarlet McCusker began his playing career at Mold RFC

The 23-year-old, Cardiff-born wing joined the Welsh squad as a late replacement for the injured star Shane Williams and said: "Playing against the All Blacks for your 1st cap is pretty good."

Like McCusker, Harries has been a late developer, but risen almost as rapidly to international rugby as his wing partner of Saturday Leigh Halfpenny, who went from playing for Neath RFC to joining the British & Irish Lions on their 2009 tour to South Africa in a year.

Harries began his senior at Guinness Premiership club Northampton Saints and spent time with championship side the Bedford Blues before he joining Paul Tuner's Dragons for the 2009-10 season.

He made his Dragons debut in the Magners League against Glasgow Warriors, winning 22-14 at Rodney Parade, but it was his performances in the LV=Cup against the Ospreys and Saracens that demonstrated his pace, footwork and nose for the try-line.

"I just want to get my hands on the ball and score," he said.

Harries' Wales wing rivals include Williams, Prydie, Halfpenny, Tom James and fellow Dragon Aled Brew.

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see also
Gatland wants better discipline
26 Jun 10 |  Welsh
NZ 'there for taking' - Phillips
26 Jun 10 |  Welsh
Wales' NZ tour in photos
26 Jun 10 |  Welsh
New Zealand 29-10 Wales
26 Jun 10 |  Welsh
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh
All Blacks magic: New Zealand rugby
21 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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The Scotsman New Zealand 29 - 10 Wales: All Blacks have options after beating Wales - 33 hrs ago
Portsmouth Today All Blacks too strong for Wales - 58 hrs ago Wales salvage pride from tussle with All Blacks - 61 hrs ago Rugby Union: New Zealand 29-10 Wales | Test match report - 64 hrs ago


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