England sevens squad named
England sevens coach Ben Ryan has named a 12-man squad for the opening leg of this season's HSBC World Series in Australia.
The Gold Coast Sevens, starting on October 13, launches a major season for the sport that culminates with next summer's World Cup in Moscow. It also represents the start of a four-year cycle towards sevens being part of the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The England squad, captained by Rob Vickerman, includes prolific try-scorers Mathew Turner and Dan Norton. England finished third in last season's world series behind champions New Zealand and runners-up Fiji.
England's sevens programme has expanded to feature 19 full-time players this season, heightening competition for places, and Ryan said: "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 has been itching to get on the plane.
"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 are certainly pacier and fitter than we've ever been, and probably the quickest side around. These are fantastic athletes and they are 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 World Cup in Moscow."
Among those who miss out on the trip to Australia is former world sevens player of the year Ollie Phillips. Ryan added: "One or two injuries have put him a couple of weeks away from his absolute best, but he will be in great shape by the time we get to legs two and three in Dubai and Port Elizabeth."
England squad: J Brake, C Brightwell, C Cracknell, C Lewis-Pratt, T Mitchell, D Norton, T Powell, J Rodwell, M Turner, R Vickerman (capt), M Watson, J Williams.