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Some big names in international Rugby Sevens return to action this weekend at the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham.
Samoa’s Bristol-based powerhouse Alafoti Faosiliva, former Kenya captain Humphrey Kayange and Aussie skipper Ed Jenkins all return for the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, looking to prove their fitness and form ahead of next month’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, Russia.
In all there are 23 squad changes from Glasgow last weekend among the top 12 in the Series as players are brought in to either cover for injuries or to be given a chance to impress ahead of the Moscow showpiece.
In the eight-team qualifying tournament for three core team places on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series, Spain make a raft of changes from last weekend in Glasgow, recalling the experienced nucleus of their side. Meanwhile, exciting Hong Kong talent Keith Robertson puts his pilot training on hold to try and help Dai Rees’ side win core team status next season.
Top 12 – Cup competition
Argentina – Unchanged from Glasgow.
Australia – Ed Jenkins comes in for Will Miller.
Canada – Mike Fuailefau, Justin Douglas and Thyssen de Goede come in for for Tyler Ardron, Ciaran Hearn and John Moonlight.
England – Unchanged from Glasgow.
Fiji – Watisoni Votu replaces Benito Masilevu.
France – Captain Vincent Deniau returns to the side and replaces last week’s captain, Manoel Dall Igna. Thibaut Zambelli is recalled and Baptiste Douillard earns a debut, replacing Renaud Delmas and France’s leading all-time scorer, Paul Albaladejo.
Kenya – Former captain Humphrey Kayange returns to replace Philip Wamae
New Zealand – Warwick Lahmert, David Raikuna and Matt Faddes replace the injured Scott Curry, Ben Lam and Belgium Tuatagaloa.
Samoa – Alafoti Faosiliva returns to the Samoa side, replacing last weekend’s debutant, Neria Fomai.
South Africa – Cecil Afrika, Bernado Botha, Tshotsho Mbovane and Series debutant Werner Kok replace Seabelo Senatla and Justin Geduld, who both join up with the country’s Under 20 side, and the injured Paul Delport and Steven Hunt.
USA – Siona Taufa comes in for Jack Halalilo.
Wales – The reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions blood three more Series debutants in London – Owen Jenkins, Iolo Evans and Dafydd Howells making their first appearances – and Richie Pugh and Nicky Griffiths also coming back into the side. They replace Rhys Shellard, Owen Williams, Tom Grabham, Gareth Davies and Tavis Knoyle.
Series core team qualifier – 8 teams
Georgia – Name 10 players new to the World Series stage. Only Irakli Gegenava and Lasha Khmaladze have previous experience.
Hong Kong – The big news is that Dai Rees welcomes back inspirational playmaker Keith Robertson in the absence of the injured Jamie Hood. Robertson is currently based in Australia training to be a Cathay Pacific pilot, but slots back into the side captained by Rowan Varty.
Portugal – Two changes from Glasgow last weekend: Experienced star David Mateus comes back in to replace Tomas Appleton and Sebastiao da Cunha replaces Luis Sousa.
Russia – The Rugby World Cup Sevens hosts make one change from Glasgow last weekend, Ramil Gaysin coming in for Anton Pshenichnykh. Crucially, they have also managed to hold onto Northampton Saint Vasily Artemyev, who has 27 Series tries to his name from six tournaments.
Scotland – Coach Stephen Gemmell sticks with 11 of his players from Glasgow as Scotland look to play themselves back into the World Series next season. The only change is James Fleming, who replaces the injured John Houston.
Spain – Having rested a whole raft of frontline players last week in Glasgow for the challenge ahead, coach Ignacio Inchausti welcomes back Javier Canosa, Pablo Feijoo, Facundo Lavino, Pedro Martin, Jaike Carter and Glen Lewis Rolls.
Tonga – Kilifi Latu again captains a side with two debutants – Vai Hausia and Sosefo Ma’ake.
Zimbabwe – There’s a familiar look to the Cheetahs line-up, captained by Lacques Leitao. Only Japhet Ndebele and Lucky Sithole have not played on the World Series.