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Russia have brought across 13 players for this years Cougar Rugby League World Sevens, naming a strong squad which will have a serious chance of winning the International Trophy up for grabs in the tournament.
Six players from last years squad will make the base for the strong Russian side with Igor Gavrilin, Alexander Lysenkov, Serguei Dobrynine, Roman Ovtchinnikov, Evgenui Bojoukov and Kirill Koulemine all making a reappearance at Aussie Stadium. Denis Nikolskiy, who was a crowd favourite in the 2003 (Primarily cause he was one of the few Russian players the crowd could pronounce their name properly) was one of the surprise omissions from the squad.
The squad is as follows:
Roman Ovtchinnikov - Plays for the Locomotiv Moscow club in the Russian Premier League competition, a regular in the national side, playing Hooker for both European Nations Cup matches. A strong mobile forward, who also combines well with halfback Igor Gavrilin. This will be his second World Sevens in Sydney.
Evgeny Bojoukov- Another player who adds experience to the Russian World Sevens squad after also making an appearance in 2003, Bojoukov played both Loose Forward and Prop forward for the Bears in their international season. Also plays for the Locomotiv Moscow club.
Igor Gavrilin- The playmaker of the squad, Igor is a versatile back who can play in multiple positions, as highlighted in his career where he has featured at half-back, fullback, five-eighth, winger and centre. Brings much needed speed to the Russian side.
Krill Koulemine- From the club that use to be known as the Magicians, and one player the Russians will be hoping weaves some magic on the field. Primarily plays in the second row, but can push a number of backs with his speed and agility.
Rafael Yakubov- Made his national appearance for Russia for the first time in the 2003 European Nations Cup clash against England A in the centre position, however usually plays in the halves for his club, Dynamo.
Mikhail Mitrofanov- Hooker for the Dynamo club, and reserve hooker for the national team, playing below Roman Ovtchinnikov. Mitrofanov will most likely only be selected in the final seven if the World Sevens are playing in wet conditions.
Aidar Akhmetshin- Impact player used off the bench by the national team in their clash against Wales last year, the Strela Kazan player is usually most at home in the forwards. A mobile player, again will be used if Russia intend to play a more defence oriented game.
Oleg Sokolov- Fullback for the national team and Strela Kazan, a very deceptive player who is good under the high ball, will add a level of stability to the Russian side.
Alexander Klebanov- Used as a reserve for the Locomotiv, has been brought into the squad as another specialist player for the Sevens.