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Turner: Excitement building as England return to scene of Dubai triumph

29 November 2011

  • Ten of this season's sevens squad back to defend 2010 title
  • This is where we played our best rugby, says England centre

Mathew Turner can feel the excitement building as the England Sevens squad return to the scene of last season’s tournament triumph in Dubai.

England came from behind in four successive matches – beating Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and Samoa – to lift the 2010 title.

Turner completed the great escape as England came from 21-12 down with the clinching try in the 29-21 victory over Samoa after scores from Simon Hunt and Dan Norton had hauled them back in front.

This season’s team flew in from Brisbane having been knocked out by New Zealand (24-14) in the quarter finals and then beaten 17-14 by Samoa in the Plate semi final.

They will iron out some of the glitches in their game in training this week and then draw on the passionate ex-pat support on Friday and Saturday, kicking off with pool games against France, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Matt Turner in action for England Sevens in Dubai in 2010

Photo: Getty Images

“It’s always awesome to be involved with this team particularly here in Dubai after last year,” said Turner, the former Bristol Rugby wing now part of the full-time sevens squad.

“I immediately noticed how much more excited everyone is to be back where we won last year and this is where most of the boys played their best rugby last year.

“The support we get in Dubai from all the ex-pats here is unbelievable. It’s one of the tournaments where you feel like you’re playing at home.

“I scored the ‘sealing’ try in the final, although Dan Norton would argue against me saying he scored the ‘winning’ try, but it’s great to be back and to get back on the park and to get right what we got wrong last week.

“It’s just tiny, tiny things in that we deviated from our game plan a little bit and that gave other teams opportunities to take advantage of. This week we’re going to work really hard at those small things because they make up the bigger picture and I think you’re going to see a very different England team this week.”

England have 10 of the squad who lifted the 2010 title on duty here with former Leeds Carnegie playmaker Christian Lewis-Pratt and Bristol-based hooker Simon Hunt added to the group on duty on the Gold Coast last weekend and giving head coach Ben Ryan 14 players to select from.

Both have the chance to force their way into Ryan’s plans as England train at Rashid School on the outskirts of the city.

Turner added: “Simon always manages to score the winning tries as he did last year here against Fiji and he came on and scored with his first touch in the final, smashed his way through two big Samoan boys and went over. He’s just a good finisher and if he gets the ball with the line in front of him he will finish it.

“Christian’s one of the new boys signed up this year and in the [summer FIRA] European series he was just unbelievable. He’s very calm and relaxed on the ball, he’s our first choice kicker, he mainly plays at 10 and he’s just such an easy guy to be around and play with.”