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."
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.