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Erinle called up as England Sevens make changes

05 July 2011

  • Former Wasps, Leicester and Biarritz centre Ayoola Erinle on Barcelona trip
  • Ryan adds regulars to squad in FIRA European GP series
Ayoola Erinle training with England in 2009

Photo: Getty Images

Ayoola Erinle is back in an England shirt for the first time in two years for the third stage of the FIRA European Grand Prix Sevens Series.

The former Wasps, Leicester Tigers and Biarritz centre – capped at senior level against Australia and New Zealand in November 2009 – is one of five changes to the squad for the Barcelona tournament on July 9-10.

Head coach Ben Ryan recalls Chris Brightwell and Andrew Higgins as well as HSBC Sevens World Series regulars Dan Norton, England’s leading try scorer last season, and Simon Hunt.

Wing Higgins, who has more than 100 Aviva Premiership appearances to his credit with Bath, Bristol and Exeter Chiefs, and forward Brightwell, who spent last season with Sale Sharks, both featured in the Lyon victory.

England top the European Grand Prix table after title wins in Lyon and Moscow last month, beating Spain and Portugal in the two finals.  Nick Royle and Christian Lewis-Pratt are the leading try scorer and points scorer in the series so far.

Winning the overall title is one aim but head coach Ryan’s focus is on developing individual and team play, and increasing competition for places with next season’s HSBC Sevens World Series in mind. The changes for Moscow take the total number of players used in the summer series to 17 with more waiting in the wings.

England Sevens head coach Ben Ryan is increasing the depth of his squad

Photo: Getty Images

"We’ve made five changes to the Moscow squad and that’s in line with our policy for the series to widen our net and get more players involved," Ryan said.

"A couple of old hands are back in to break down their games and will have supporting roles, so Dan Norton, for example, will back up Nick Royle. Ayoola Erinle is a free agent and he’s weighing up his options at the moment. He’s got pedigree and he’s potentially a real asset.

"We’re looking at players in different positions and different roles and it’s been good so far. From a coaching point of view this series has been a great test bed to try things out.

"In terms of experience, it’s great and it means that we can look at guys who can get up to 28 games under their belts rather than have someone going straight in to make their debut in the world series. We still have at least half-a-dozen of contracted world series regulars that will rejoin the rest of the squad for pre-season in August. Competition for places will be tough."

England face Romania, Georgia, Italy and France on Saturday with a final pool match against the Netherlands and the knock-out stages the following day.

England Sevens squad

John Brake
Chris Brightwell
Chris Cracknell
Ayoola Erinle
Andrew Higgins
Simon Hunt
Christian Lewis-Pratt
Tom Mitchell
Dan Norton
James Rodwell
Nick Royle
Rob Vickerman