Henry Paul has been described by coach Mike Friday as one of the best sevens players in the country
ENGLAND Sevens coach Mike Friday has named his 12-man squad for the opening two legs of the IRB Sevens in Dubai and George - and has included four players from Gloucester.
Skipper Simon Amor will be joined in the squad by club mates Henry Paul, Will Matthews and Luke Narraway in an exciting and experienced squad.
Tom Varndell of Leicester Tigers, who will also appear on the bench for England this Saturday against Samoa, has also been named in the sevens squad.
Mike Friday is excited about seeing Tom in action in Dubai: "Tom is incredibly quick and is the leading try scorer in the Guinness Premiership. We call him the racehorse as he is tall, slim and very fast just like Red Rum.
"His call up to the senior squad is a reflection of the outstanding season he is having and I am looking forward to seeing how he copes with the intensity of international sevens. It will be a steep learning curve for all of the new players as they will be playing in front of a noisy 30,000 crowd and they will have to learn very quickly how to handle the heat and physical demands of sevens.
"This really is an exciting, raw team for England as we have three uncapped players and four who have only played a handful of tournaments but I am sure they will rise to the challenge."
Speaking on the selection for the both tournaments Mike Friday said, "It was a tough selection process as we have a number of exciting and talented youngsters who could have stepped up to the plate and made the final squad.
"This is a transitional period for the England Sevens squad as a number of our experienced players have progressed to the senior England squad, which is great news, but I am pleased that we still have a backbone of experienced players such as Simon Amor, Ben Gollings and Henry Paul.
"Henry is one of the country's best sevens players and I am thrilled that he is back within the squad. I am very grateful to the Premiership club directors of rugby for releasing the players and am confident that every single player will benefit from the experience of representing England in the IRB Sevens."
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).