Ryan reveals squad for Sevens opener
November 12, 2011
Marcus Watson impressed during the JP Morgan Sevens Series © Getty Images
England Sevens coach Ben Ryan has named his squad for the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Australia.
The tournament kicks off on the Gold Coast on November 25 with England paired alongside Scotland, Wales and Tonga in their group. And Ryan has called on new signings Rob Vickerman and Chris Brightwell who have committed to the Sevens set-up on a full-time basis after leaving the Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks respectively. Nick Royle joins them in the squad after being awarded a full-time contract following an impressive performance during the summer's FIRA-AER European Grand Prix tournament which saw him cross the line 35 times.
The trio are joined in the squad by Isoa Damudamu, who returns for the first time since February's Wellington Sevens, and Saracens speedster Marcus Watson. And if a member of the squad succumbs to injury then Ryan has named Andy Vilk, of the Rugby Lions, and Esher's Sam Edgerley on the reserve list.
And after finishing third in the 2010-11 season, Ryan is eyeing a professional performance in the opening round of the tournament. "Selection for the start of the HSBC Sevens World Series has been different because there are three tournaments in a row but it is important to get off to a flying start in Australia and I'm delighted we've been able to pick our best available 12," said Ryan. "They've all been capped at international sevens level before and they're all used to the twists and turns of the tournaments and the travel involved.
"We've certainly worked very hard off the field - as all our opponents will have done - and we're excited about the start of the series. We're looking forward to playing some entertaining rugby and taking our performance levels forward throughout the season.
"We face some difficult games with our local rivals in our group. We all know how hard they'll be to beat and Tonga have beaten us in Australia in the past too. It's a tough draw but we know what we have to do."
Last season's champions New Zealand are in Pool A with Fiji, Kenya and Niue, Pool B is comprised of runners-up South Africa, Australia, USA and Japan, and Pool C includes Samoa, Argentina, France and Papua New Guinea. The HSBC Sevens World Series has expanded to nine tournaments this season with a new stage in Tokyo and new venues in Australia, South Africa - at Port Elizabeth - and the London Sevens at Twickenham on May 12-13 has shifted in the calendar to become the series finale.
England Sevens: Greg Barden, John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Chris Cracknell, Isoa Damudamu (British Army), Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Nick Royle, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman, Marcus Watson (Saracens)
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