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England Sevens unleash Wilson

Tue, 04 Feb 2014 18:26
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South Africa are a fantastic team with lots of powerful players
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Callum Wilson has been handed his IRB Sevens World Series debut and Mat Turner returns to the side as England prepare to defend their Wellington Sevens title in New Zealand.

Former Loughborough student Wilson and 2011-12 series top try-scorer Turner take over from Christian Lewis-Pratt and Alex Gray for the global tour’s fifth leg at the Westpac Stadium this weekend.

England lifted the title last season after ambushing New Zealand in the pool stages, then defeating Kenya in extra time to win the Final 24-19 thanks to Sam Edgerley’s decisive try.

This season they start with another tough draw, taking on current series leaders South Africa, Wales and Portugal in Pool A.

Wilson, 23, is a big wing whose ball-carrying power and ability to break tackles was evident against Wales in England’s pre-season preparations at Bath University.

England Sevens head coach Simon Amor said: “It’s a good opportunity for Callum. It’s his first tournament in international Sevens. He’s got lots of potential and lots to learn.

“He’s a big guy and he’ll add his physicality to the team, while Mat Turner’s a super talent and this is a great chance for him to come back in and make an impact.”

While England are defending their title, Amor is concentrating on improving their performance levels on last month’s outing in Las Vegas, where England won the Plate and finished fifth overall after a quarterfinal defeat at the hands of New Zealand. They are fourth overall in the series rankings.

“It’s important to understand that this is a different team in a different year,” Amor said. “What’s important for us now is taking steps forward and improving on our performance in Las Vegas.

“We showed some glimpses of what we can do there but overall we didn’t perform at the levels we aspire to. The habits are not in place yet and we’ve got to concentrate on the fundamentals of our game to make progress.”

The Wellington pool stages on Friday see England face Portugal (01.45 GMT), Wales (04.33) and South Africa (08.34).

“South Africa are a fantastic team with lots of powerful players and they’re playing a good style of Sevens,” said Amor.

“They’ll be a big challenge for us but at the same time Wales and Portugal are equally difficult to play and hugely physical, so it’ll be a great test.”

England Sevens: Dan Bibby, Phil Burgess, Chris Cracknell, Mike Ellery, Tom Mitchell (captain), Dan Norton, James Rodwell, Tom Powell, Mathew Turner, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams, Callum Wilson.

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