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."
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees, speaking to GRTV after the 35-10 over Zebre, was happy with the bonus point win over the Italian side but admitted Gloucester will need to tighten up for the return fixture in Parma.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).