Aviva Premiership
Wray eyes first-team berth
ESPNscrum Staff
July 19, 2011
Saracens' Jackson Wray exploits a gap in the Bath defence, Bath v Saracens, Aviva Premiership, The Rec, Bath, England, November 21, 2010
Wray will hope to assert his claim for a Sarries first-team spot on Friday © Getty Images

Jackson Wray has vowed to use the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s as a springboard into champions Saracens' first team squad.

The former King John School pupil has been named in Sarries squad for the second round of the series at Northampton's Franklin's Gardens home on Friday night after taking another huge stride in the right direction last season. Wray, who helped the Vicarage Road side claim the Sevens crown 12 months ago, impressed on loan at Bedford in the Championship before returning to make nine appearances - including a man-of-the-match display in the December win over Bath - for the eventual Premiership winners.

And with Saracens head coach Mark McCall set to lose a whole host of players to World Cup duty, back-rower Wray insists he is ready to push his cause further.

"There's a real sense of expectation about the club this season and that includes this Friday as well - we're defending our title and taking it extremely seriously," said the former Westcliff starlet. "The aim last season was to start and end the season by picking up silverware and that's what we achieved and there's no change in that this time around.

"We're taking a strong squad to Northampton and I know the coaching staff wants to come back with a win. And with it being on TV there's a real chance to impress people in the crowd and at home.

"Breaking up the pre-season training with this is fantastic and Sevens is a real test of where you are at - it can highlight the weaknesses of your game and let you know what you need to work on to improve. But if you can perform well and impress the right people then it can't do you any harm at all of getting into the thoughts of the coaching staff."

And Wray believes the emergence of young guns Alex Goode, Andy Saull and Premiership play-off final hero Owen Farrell have boosted his claims of becoming a first-team regular. McCall and his coaching staff haven't been afraid to put their faith in youth and after an intensive spell of training with forwards coaches Alex Sanderson and Paul Gustard this summer, Wray is desperate to force his way in.

"I couldn't be at a better club to get a chance as one of the younger players and it's up to me to take it when it comes along," added Wray. "Just look at what Alex and Andy have done in the last few years and then Owen last season was phenomenal. It's not easy to step into the first-team like they have done but I'm going to put the work in to make sure I'm in a position to try and repeat it."

Tickets for every round of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series are available through Ticketmaster www.ticketmaster.co.uk or by calling 0844 847 2492.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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