Two debutants for England Sevens

Ethan Waddleton and Jack Wilson will make their England Sevens debuts in Wellington next weekend in the third leg of the Sevens World Series.

Waddleton, who turned 19 in November, was one of the first players to join the England Sevens academy programme (set up last year) and is part of a squad that blends youth with experience.

Wilson is set to win his first cap in his country of birth. He first featured for England in the Rugby Europe Grand Prix tournament in Exeter last season and has a background in sevens as well as the XV-a-side game including playing for Saracens in 2013-14. 

Head coach Simon Amor said: “Jack brings a lot of speed, physicality and power to our game. He has had a tough conditioning block to get him up to Sevens’ fitness again and has worked incredibly hard. Everyone is excited to see how he goes. 

“Ethan has shown real potential since joining the programme. He has done well in training and has earned his place on the World Series through his performances for the academy side.”

England are without senior players Phil Burgess, who is continuing to recover from a broken arm sustained in Cape Town, and Dan Norton who is taking time to be with his family following the birth of his son. 

A narrow loss to the hosts last year (27-21) meant England finished second in the tournament in which they have a strong track record.   They lifted the trophy in 2013 and in the last five years have consistently finished in the top four.

“It is a brilliant tournament with a passionate partisan crowd and the boys seem to respond well in those situations,” added Amor. 

“The timing of the training block leading into the tournament also tends to bring out the best in the players. Although there is a real mix of experience and inexperience in this squad there is talent from 1 to 12. They are a very tight knit group and we will be looking to show our winning attitude in every contest."

England have been drawn in Pool C and will play France in the opening game (10.30pm GMT), before taking on USA (1.54am GMT) and Samoa (4.28am GMT).

England Squad for the Wellington Sevens: Tom Bowen, Dan Bibby, Cameron Cowell, Alex Davis, Richard De Carpentier, Alex Gray, Warwick Lahmert, Ruaridh McConnochie, Tom Mitchell (c), James Rodwell, Ethan Waddleton, Jack Wilson