Great Britain Sevens head coach Simon Amor has announced his wider training squad for the Rio Olympics which includes a combination of Sevens specialists and 15-a-side players from England, Scotland and Wales.
The 25 players will gather on 30 May for a seven-week intensive training period involving a programme of four international competitions.
Dan Norton, the World Rugby Sevens Series’ fourth highest leading try scorer of all time, international captains Tom Mitchell and Luke Treharne, and experienced players such as Scotland’s Mark Robertson and Scott Riddell are among the 19 sevens specialists.
Named alongside them are 15s players, Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), James Davies (Scarlets), Ollie Lindsay-Hague (Harlequins), Joe Simpson (Wasps) and Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons).
With sevens included in the Olympics for the first time the 12 places in Team GB will be announced together with the women’s squad on 19 July.
“We have watched a significant amount of footage throughout the season of 15-a-side players and every sevens game from England, Scotland and Wales,” said Amor.
“Exciting talent was available to us and competition for places was tough. We’re now really looking forward to bringing this group together as one team and creating an incredible Great Britain spirit.”
Bennett, who was nominated for breakthrough player of the year after the Rugby World Cup, represented Scotland Sevens at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and prior to that featured on the World Series in 2013, the same season in which Allen played for Wales.
Davies won his 13 tournament caps on the circuit between 2012 and 2014, during which time he also featured in the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Watson also competed in these events and scored over 400 points during the 26 series’ tournaments he played for England Sevens.
Lindsay-Hague resumed his sevens career in Hong Kong in April, having represented England in 2010, while Joe Simpson’s inclusion reflects his ability to cover a number of positions with a skill set that supports the blend of the squad.
“For the 15s players aiming to make that transition, recent sevens experience at the top level was important given how much the world of sevens rugby has progressed in the last three to four years,” added Amor.
“We were also targeting players in certain key positions to add strength in depth and complement the qualities of the specialists we already have.”
Leadership and experience is provided through a number of sevens specialists including James Rodwell, who set a new world record earlier this year after playing in 69 consecutive tournaments, and Scott Riddell who has competed in two Commonwealth Games, two Sevens World Cups and played in almost every minute of Scotland’s 2013-14 and 2014-15 World Series’ campaigns.
As part of Olympic preparations, two Great Britain Sevens squads will compete in four tournaments including the Rugby Europe Sevens Series in Moscow (4-5 June), Exeter (9-10 July) and Gdynia (16-17 July) as well as Sevens and the City at Allianz Park (2 July).
Great Britain Sevens training squad: Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Dan Bibby (England Sevens), Tom Bowen (England Sevens), Phil Burgess (England Sevens), Sam Cross (Wales Sevens), James Davies (Scarlets), Alex Davis (England Sevens), Richard de Carpentier (England Sevens), Jamie Farndale (Scotland Sevens), Alex Gray (England Sevens), Charlie Hayter (England Sevens), Warwick Lahmert (England Sevens), Ollie Lindsay-Hague (Harlequins), Gavin Lowe (Scotland Sevens), Ruaridh McConnochie (England Sevens), Tom Mitchell (England Sevens), Luke Morgan (Wales Sevens), Dan Norton (England Sevens), Scott Riddell (Scotland Sevens), Mark Robertson (Scotland Sevens), James Rodwell (England Sevens), Joe Simpson (Wasps), Luke Treharne (Wales Sevens), Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons)