- Brake recovers from broken finger
- Mitchell makes step up from England Students and FIRA series
Photo: RFU Archive
England Sevens have made two changes to their squad for the next two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Uncapped Oxford student Tom Mitchell wins his first call-up and fit-again John Brake returns for the tournaments in Wellington (February 3-4) and Las Vegas (February 10-12).
Midfield back Mitchell, 22, is a former England Students captain who scored the final try in the 28-10 win against Cambridge in this season’s Nomura Varsity Match.
Half back Brake is back in action after recovering from the broken finger that ruled him out of the Dubai and South Africa legs in December.
Wing Nick Royle and hooker Simon Hunt stand down following England’s last outing in Port Elizabeth, where former Sale Sharks flanker Chris Brightwell also featured.
England are just four points off the top of the table behind Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa after the opening three rounds which included their tournament win in Dubai.
Mitchell, from Cuckfield in West Sussex, led England Students while an English and Philosopy student at Bristol and appeared for England Sevens in last summer’s FIRA-AER European GP Series.
"After the Varsity Match we wanted him to come in and measure himself against everyone else and he’s surprised himself and everyone else in the way he’s understood things," said Ryan.
"He’s a bright bloke who can play in a number of positions. He’s very quick and has good game understanding and the fact that he’s forced his way into a squad that doesn’t have any injuries and has won a title this season shows that we’re in a position of strength.
"It’s good to be able to welcome back John Brake and we’re in good shape going to what’s been a happy hunting ground for us in recent years at Wellington."
England claimed one of their greatest ever victories at the Westpac Stadium in 2009 - when Isoa Damudamu’s try and a Ben Gollings conversion saw them come back from 19-0 down to beat hosts New Zealand and take the title – and reached the final there last season.
The squad, which departs for New Zealand next Tuesday, includes nine of England’s 12 full-time contracted sevens players.
England Sevens squad
Greg Barden (captain), John Brake, Chris Cracknell, Isoa Damudamu (British Army), Christian Lewis-Pratt, Tom Mitchell (Oxford University), Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman, Marcus Watson (Saracens).