England, NZ and Argentina set for Gold Coast
England's 12-man squad for the first round of the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series has been announced by head coach Ben Ryan.
Ryan has released his squad, which includes last season's top two try-scorers Mat Turner and Dan Norton, as well as captain Rob Vickerman, ahead of the first round on Australia's Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast Sevens - Fever Pitch takes place on October 13-14 and is the first of nine tournaments for the newest Olympic sport on the World Series, a season which also culminates with the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow next June.
The England Sevens programme has expanded to 19 full-time players this season, increasing strength in depth and competition for places, and making selection for Ryan tougher than ever.
“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," said Ryan.
“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 IRB Sevens Player of the Year Ollie Phillips, whilst Marcus Watson and Christian Lewis-Pratt return from injury.
“One or two injuries have put him [Phillips] 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,” added Ryan.
England, who finished third in last year’s series, face Kenya, Spain and Samoa on Gold Coast opening day at Skilled Park.
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
Defending champs' training squad
All Blacks Sevens Coach Gordon Tietjens has named a squad of 15 players to attend a training camp in Mount Maunganui next week to prepare for the first tournament of the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series on the Gold Coast October 13-14.
"We have a good mix of some very experienced players and some up and coming young guys who I know will be working really hard next week to make the final team we take away," said IRB Hall of Fame inductee Tietjens.
"It was always going to be difficult to pull together a squad at this time of year so we have had to call up a number of players who have yet to be tested in the sevens format at this level.
"These guys have got plenty to prove and while they might not have a great depth of sevens experience, we know they will step up to the mark as it's always a great honour to get the chance to pull on the black jersey."
Two players from the last HSBC Sevens World Series, Toby Arnold and Scott Curry, were not considered because of injury. The training squad assembles in Mount Maunganui on Monday. A final team of 12 players to attend the Gold Coast tournament on October 13-14 will be named later next week.
Tietjens' side will face USA, Canada and South Africa on day one of the 2012/13 World Series in Australia.
All Blacks Sevens squad: Tomasi Cama, Sam Dickson, DJ Forbes, Joe Hill, Iopu Iopu, Mark Jackman, Steve Ketu, Warwick Lahmert, Rhys Llewellyn, Tim Mikkelson, Kylem O'Donnell, Ben Paltridge, Lote Raikabula, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Jamie Verran
Argentina blood four debutants on Gold Coast
Argentina have named four debutants - Santiago Cordero, Lucas De Vicenzi, Matías Moroni and Aníbal Panceyra Garrido - in their squad for the Gold Coast.
Nicolás Bruzzone, Francisco Merello and Gastón Revol provide the team with much experience, though, as they prepare to take on Wales, France and Portugal in Pool D.
There are a number of players with Junior World Championship experience in the squad, including Cordero who was part of the Argentina squad at JWC 2012 in South Africa where Los Pumitas recorded their best ever finish of fourth.
Argentina Sevens: Nicolás Bruzzone, Santiago Cordero, Lucas De Vicenzi, Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, Ezequiel Faralle, Fernando Luna, Francisco Merello, Matías Moroni, Aníbal Panceyra Garrido, Facundo Panceyra Garrido, Ignacio Pasman, Gastón Revol