Commonwealth Games 2002
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Rugby 7's Friday, 2 August, 2002, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
James blow for Wales
Dafydd James scores for Wales against Italy during the 2002 Six Nations
Wales will miss Dafydd James' power and pace

Dafydd James' withdrawal through injury has put a dent in Wales' Commonwealth Games hopes for a Rugby Sevens medal.

The Lions wing has suffered a recurrence of the elbow injury that dogged him last season and reluctantly pulled out of the Wales squad on Thursday night.

The Bridgend centre will be replaced by Swansea youngster Gareth Swales, with the Welsh Under-21 international having gained plenty of experience on the IRB World Sevens Series circuit this season.

Nevertheless, coach Colin Hillman is still optimistic about their prospects.

open quote
We are determined to make all Wales proud of us
end quote
Wales Sevens skipper Jason Forster

"With the progress we've shown this season, then I think the semi-finals are not beyond us," Hillman said.

Semi-finalists in Hong Kong earlier this year, Wales are banking on the experience of the likes of Rob Howley, Gareth Thomas and Arwel Thomas to spearhead their campaign.

Skipper Jason Forster, arguably the best current uncapped forward in Welsh rugby, expects his players to rise to the occasion.

"We are determined to play well, enjoy ourselves and make all Wales proud of us," said the Newport flanker.

Wales begin on Friday against Pool B outsiders Sri Lanka, which should produce a comfortable victory, before an encounter with Tonga that could be crucial in deciding who goes through to the next round.

Then comes a Saturday appointment at the City of Manchester Stadium with group favourites South Africa.

"I hope that we can still be in the main Cup competition on the last day of the Games," said scrum-half Howley, who makes his final Wales representative appearance this weekend after an international career that harvested 59 caps.

"With a sell-out 38,000 crowd expected on Sunday, it would be a great experience."

Wales squad: Jason Forster (Newport, capt), Gareth Baber (Pontypridd), Gareth Gravell (Newport), Rob Howley (London Wasps), Gareth Swales (Swansea), Emyr Lewis (Pontypridd), Craig Richards (Bridgend), Matthew Robinson (Swansea), Arwel Thomas (Swansea), Gareth Thomas (Bridgend), Gareth Williams (Llanelli), Gareth Wyatt (Pontypridd).

Commonwealth Games sevens draw & seeding

Pool A
New Zealand

Pool B
South Africa
Sri Lanka

Pool C
Cook Islands

Pool D
Trinidad & Tobago

1. New Zealand
2. South Africa
3. England
4. Fiji
5. Australia
6. Samoa
7. Wales
8. Scotland
9. Canada
10. Tonga
11. Cook Islands
12. Malaysia
13. Trinidad & Tobago
14. Kenya
15. Sri Lanka
16 Niue Islands

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