England name squad for sevens opener
September 28, 2012
Dan Norton is in England's squad for the Gold Coast Sevens © Getty Images
England sevens coach Ben Ryan has named his first squad of the season ahead of the Gold Coast Sevens.
The HSBC Sevens World Series kicks off on October 13 and it will be the first time that England will take to the field in what is now an official Olympic sport. Sevens will take its bow at the Rio 2016 Games but before then there is the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow next June.
It is an exciting time to be involved with the short form of the game and England have expanded their squad to 19 players for this season. Seven of those will miss out on a place in the squad for the Gold Coast with Ryan handing the captain's armband to Rob Vickerman.
The England squad features two of the most prolific try scorers in the sport - Mathew Turner and Dan Norton - and Ryan admits that he had some tough decisions to make ahead when picking his side. "Every training session is very competitive and everyone pushes each other on - we've had a fair bit of niggle over the last few months, too, because everyone's been itching to get on the plane," Ryan said. "That competition for places has given us some very healthy dilemmas when it comes to selection and we've left players out who will have an important role to play in our title bid.
"We're certainly pacier and fitter than we've ever been and probably the quickest side around. These are fantastic athletes and they're in terrific shape. But we expect everyone we come up against to be like that. The difference now will be getting it right on the field technically over the HSBC Sevens World Series, which is a bit of a marathon, followed by a sprint at the Sevens World Cup in Moscow."
Among those who miss out on the trip to Australia is former World Player of the Year Ollie Phillips. Ryan said: "One or two injuries have put him a couple of weeks away from his absolute best but he'll be in great shape by the time we get to legs two and three in Dubai and Port Elizabeth."
England have been drawn alongside Kenya, Spain and Samoa on the Gold Coast and could potentially face Australia or Fiji in the quarter-finals.
England Sevens squad: John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Chris Cracknell, Christian Lewis-Pratt, Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman (captain), Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams
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