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England add to options ahead of Dubai Sevens

28 November 2011

  • England have more options available for second leg
  • Ryan positive despite day two setback in Gold Coast
Christian Lewis-Pratt

Photo: Getty Images

England have added Christian Lewis-Pratt and Simon Hunt to their squad as they head for the second leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai.

Calling up Lewis-Pratt and Hunt gives head coach Ben Ryan 14 players to select from as England prepare to defend the title they won in dramatic style last season.

Ryan anticipates that Dan Norton (ankle) and Mat Turner (calf) will be available after picking up knocks at the first leg in Gold Coast, where England claimed 10 points after reaching the quarter finals before they were edged out by New Zealand (24-14) and Samoa (17-14) on day two.

Turner finished the weekend as England’s leading scorer with five tries and he and Norton landed the decisive blows in last year’s Dubai final.

Ryan said: "I’m pretty confident that we’ll have both of those available for selection next week. We’ll also have Christian Lewis-Pratt and Simon Hunt in Dubai to have 12 to pick from 14 and they’ll do everything they can next week to put their hands up.

"Although we’ve had some road bumps in the last couple of days we’ve gained a lot from it and we just need to tighten one or two things up.

"Our start was good in the tournament and we played pretty well. With 10 seconds to go against New Zealand it was a five-point game and we had possession with some chances but we were a bit unlucky.

Photo: Getty Images

"We leave this tournament knowing that we shouldn’t fear anyone in the world series. There are one or two sides here who have done one or two small things better than us and there’s nothing we've seen that doesn't make us think over nine tournaments we can’t be there or thereabouts at the end.

"We’re five per cent away, probably less than that. In the New Zealand game it was a bit of a body blow at the start when we’d pinned them on the line and he [Frank Halai] broke two tackles and 90 metres later suddenly what was an advantage for us turned into a negative.

"I’m a bit disappointed, I’m a bit frustrated, but overall I’m encouraged by the boys attitude and their willingness and desire to learn."

Young playmaker Lewis-Pratt, 20, signed from Leeds Carnegie this summer and has yet to make his series debut, while experienced former Perpignan and Bristol wing Hunt, 30, made his first appearance 11 years ago.

England Sevens squad

Greg Barden (captain), John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Chris Cracknell, Isoa Damudamu (British Army), Simon Hunt, Christian Lewis-Pratt, Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Nick Royle, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman, Marcus Watson (Saracens).