Thursday 8th December 2005
Dan Luger stepped off the plane at Heathrow airport to be greeted by a phone call telling him to turn around and get on another plane to South Africa. The 31 year old World Cup winner had stayed on in Dubai for a few days as stand-by for England's Sevens squad but having not been called up he had returned to England. A series of knocks to the victorious England Sevens squad in Dubai meant that a decision was made to fly Luger out and give him the chance to pull on an England jersey for the first time since the 2003 Rugby World Cup.Speaking exclusively to RFU.com Luger said
, "I am really looking forward to playing for England again. That is the reason I have been training with the squad back in England and despite the last minute journey I am thrilled to be out here with the squad ahead of the tournament tomorrow. "
Luger, who left Perpigan in the summer to concentrate on sevens and non-rugby interests, had been part of the St George's squad in Dubai who played in the invitational tournament which runs along side the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens. "I really enjoyed playing in Dubai. We played well and reached the semi final losing to Christina Noble. We learned alot of lessons in the semi final but it was a great week. The atmosphere in Dubai was fantastic and it was really good to be able to sit in the stands as a spectator and cheer on the England boys to victory. It gave me a different experience of not being on the pitch but to experience it like a fan. I saw how much fun the England boys were having on the pitch so there was a little bit of frustration not to be playing but it was more excitement that they were doing so well. I was really pleased for them that they won, they all played so well and it was great to see the youngsters like Tom Varndell in particular play so well."
"Playing in Dubai was my first sevens tournament for a while so it was quite tough. I have been injured recently and hadn't done any running before Dubai for about a month. It was touch and go that I was going to go to Dubai but it was ok in the end. I had training this morning and feel good."
Luger has joined the likes of Henry Paul and Simon Amor (both Gloucester) and Ben Gollings as one of the more senior members of the squad and is enjoying being back with players he used to play with in England. "I played with HP (Henry Paul) for England against France and used to play with Ben at Harlequins. I haven't seen much of the youngsters as I haven't seen much premiership rugby recently but from what I have seen at training and last week in Dubai, they are a fantastically talented bunch of players."
Another member of the squad who is familiar to Luger is Phil Greening who is the England Sevens assistant coach. Dan and Phil played several times together for England and Dan is pleased to have a friend involved as one of his coaches, "Its good fun to have 'Philis' around. He was a great player and knows the game of both XVs and Sevens very well. He has always been very good with people and there is a good connection between the coaches and the players. He is doing a great job with the players and I am really looking forward to working with him through this sevens set up. He gives good advice to all the players and both Phil and Mike Friday have created a very strong environment for the squad where no one is afraid to speak and give their view and the players are enjoying the training."
The England Sevens squad participate in the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens tomorrow and Saturday.