England Sevens recall former Player of Year
England Sevens coach Ben Ryan has recalled former captain and IRB Sevens Player of the Year Ollie Phillips to his squad for the second round of the HSBC Sevens World Series as they set out to defend their title at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.
With notable contracted players such as Chris Cracknell (knee), Mathew Turner (ankle), John Brake (ankle) and Christian Lewis-Pratt (knee/ankle) unavailable through injury, Ryan has also named two uncapped players, half back James Lightfoot-Brown, 19, and wing Ollie Marchon, 24.
Playmaker Dan Bibby, who last appeared in Glasgow and London last season, also returns to the side.
Lightfoot-Brown is a former England Under 18 scrum half and captained the national side that beat South Africa in the Sevens final at last year's Junior Commonwealth Game before signing full-time after spells at London Irish and Exeter Chiefs.
Former Newcastle Falcons and Stade Francais wing Phillips, 30, also joined the Sevens set-up full-time last summer along with Bibby, first capped last season while studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University, and part of the Great Britain sevens team that won the World University Championships in July.
Marchon, who plays on the wing for National One side Old Albanians, is called up after impressing in training with the squad this season.
"It's exciting to be able to bring in new players from our full-time squad in James Lightfoot-Brown and Dan Bibby, and an experienced campaigner Ollie Phillips, who'll all add something to our game. Ollie Marchon comes from outside the group of 19 but he's worked really hard in the three months he's been training with us and thoroughly deserves his chance," said Ryan.
"We're looking forward to returning to Dubai where we get great support and where we've performed consistently well over the last five years but we're under no illusions that we've got three big games on the opening day."
England suffered a disappointing opening to the Series on Australia's Gold Coast, losing the Bowl final against Spain, and as a result face a tough pool challenge with matches against South Africa, Samoa and Portugal.
Following on from Dubai, where England have lifted the last two Cup titles in 2010 and 2011, the sides head for round three of the nine event series, the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay SA Sevens in Port Elizabeth on 8-9 December.
England Sevens squad: Dan Bibby, Chris Brightwell, James Lightfoot-Brown, Ollie Marchon (Old Albanians), Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Ollie Phillips, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Rob Vickerman (captain), Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams
Tickets to England's home Marriott London Sevens, the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series on May 11-12 next year, are now on sale. Click here for details
Video: England storm to Dubai 2011 title (Full 26-minute highlights HERE >>)