Planet Rugby

Gray called into England squad

20th November 2013 08:55

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Included: Alex Gray

Alex Gray is set to make his first appearance in the IRB Sevens World Series after being named in the England squad for Dubai.

There are four changes to head coach Simon Amor's 12-man group with powerful runner Jeff Williams, playmaker Sam Edgerley and strike runner Marcus Watson also called up.

England face Canada, the USA and Fiji in Pool C on the opening day at a venue where they captured back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.

England finished third at last month's opening leg of the nine-stage series at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia, a fortnight into Amor's tenure.

"We're still learning all the time, we've made progress over the last month and that's reflected in the selection for places for Dubai," said Amor.

"Competition has been fierce, which is exactly what you want as a coach to keep driving up standards, and this is an excellent opportunity for Alex Gray, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams and Sam Edgerley to step up.

"We have more players from the full-time squad playing in The Royals in the international invitation event in Dubai and they have a chance to put their hands up for the third leg of the IRB Sevens World Series in Port Elizabeth the following weekend."

Gray, 22, captained an England U20 side containing the likes of Owen Farrell, Christian Wade, Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury to the final of the 2011 Junior World Championship moved from London Irish after signing a full-time England Sevens contract.

He is joined by Watson, who scored 27 tries in the World Series last season, Williams and Edgerley, the half back whose extra-time try clinched the 2013 New Zealand Sevens title in Wellington.

Chris Cracknell, one of the four players making way, captains The Royals development side which also includes contracted England players John Brake, Luke Fielden, Christian Lewis-Pratt, James Lightfoot-Brown and Ollie Marchon.

Rob Vickerman (back), Callum Wilson (toe) and Mark Odejobi (foot) miss out through injury.

England Sevens: Dan Bibby, Phil Burgess, Sam Edgerley, Mike Ellery, Alex Gray, Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams.

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