England 7s look for Twickenham repeat
May 21, 2010
England's Micky Young will be hoping to repeat his Twickenham heroics a year on © Getty Images
The IRB Sevens World Series roadshow rolls into London this weekend with England looking to repeat their memorable Twickenham triumph last year.
But they'll have it all to do after being drawn in a prospective group of death with Pool D rivals Australia, Scotland and Russia looking to spoil the hosts' party. England captain Ben Gollings enters the season's penultimate event just two tries away from becoming only the second person to reach 200 career tries in IRB Sevens Rugby while Micky Young is recalled a year after scoring the title-winning try last year. They are joined by flying Wasps wing Tom Varndell, Kevin Barrett and Rob Vickerman but reigning IRB Sevens Player of the Year Ollie Phillips was a late casualty with his place taken by Oliver Lindsay-Hague.
Australia have named a strong squad featuring captain James Stannard who is joined by recalled quartet - Henry Vanderglas, Ed Jenkins, Bernard Foley and Clinton Sills. Scotland are captained by Scott Forrest who returns alongside Mark Robertson, John Houston, Ally Hogg, Greig Laidlaw and Roddy Grant, while full-time Sevens specialists Mike Adamson and Colin Shaw also start.
Leaders Samoa will look to put one hand on the IRB World Series trophy this weekend with the Islanders looking for their fourth tournament title in a row following their successes in Las Vegas, Adelaide and Hong Kong. Uale Mai, the most capped player in the history of the Series with 65 tournaments, will feature while this season's leading try scorer Mikaele Pesamino will be looking to breach the 150 try barrier. Alatasi Tupou comes in for wing David Lemi, who had been set to make a long-awaited return to the Sevens fold. Pool A rivals USA, Argentina and Italy stand in between them and another quarter-final appearance.
New Zealand are right on Samoa's coat tails in the overall standings, just three points behind after reaching the final of four of the six previous events. They kick off against Wales in Pool B which also contains Kenya and Portugal. Beauden Barrett is the only debutant in a strong New Zealand squad featuring Lote Raikabula and Sherwin Stowers, who both return from injury while vice captain Zar Lawrence is two tries short of his 100th in IRB Sevens. Wales welcome back their Rugby World Cup Sevens-winning captain Lee Beach and two of his team-mates from Dubai in Rhys Webb and Craig Hill.
Third placed Fiji are looking to build on their semi-final appearance in Hong Kong but are hampered by the schedule clash with the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup. As a result they have five new caps in their squad but do recall two stars of the past in Seru Rabeni and Apolosi Satala. They face last year's overall winners South Africa who have flown Renfred Dazel in overnight to replace injured captain Kyle Brown. France and Canada make up the numbers in Pool C.
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park