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Gray day for England

Wed, 20 Nov 2013 11:52
Alex-gray
We're still learning all the time
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Alex Gray is set to make his first appearance in the IRB Sevens World Series after being named in the England squad for the Dubai tournament (November 29 and 30).

There are four changes to coach Simon Amor's 12-man group - with powerful runner Jeff Williams, playmaker Sam Edgerley and strike runner Marcus Watson also called up.

England face Canada, the United States and Fiji in Pool C on the opening day at a venue where they captured back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.

England finished third at the last month's opening leg of the nine-stage series at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia, a fortnight into Amor's tenure.

"We're still learning all the time, we've made progress over the last month and that's reflected in the selection for places for Dubai," said Amor.

"Competition has been fierce, which is exactly what you want as a coach to keep driving up standards, and this is an excellent opportunity for Alex Gray, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams and Sam Edgerley to step up.

"We have more players from the full-time squad playing in The Royals in the international invitation event in Dubai and they have a chance to put their hands up for the third leg of the Sevens World Series in Port Elizabeth the following weekend."

Gray, 22, captained an England U20 side containing the likes of Owen Farrell, Christian Wade, Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury to the final of the 2011 Junior World Championship moved from London Irish after signing a full-time England Sevens contract last summer.

He is joined by Watson, who scored 27 tries in the World Series last season, Williams, who launched this year's Marriott London Sevens with a hat-trick of tries against Fiji, and Edgerley, the half back whose extra-time try clinched the 2013 New Zealand Sevens title in Wellington.

Chris Cracknell, one of the four players making way, captains The Royals development side which also includes contracted England players John Brake, Luke Fielden, Christian Lewis-Pratt, James Lightfoot-Brown and Ollie Marchon.

Rob Vickerman (back), Callum Wilson (toe) and Mark Odejobi (foot) miss out through injury.

England: Dan Bibby, Phil Burgess, Sam Edgerley, Mike Ellery, Alex Gray, Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams.

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