The European Sevens series has traditionally been used by England to blood youngsters, but the experience of Tring’s James Rodwell will prove vital in the third leg at Exeter – according to Charlie Hayter.
The 30-year-old Rodwell has been a mainstay of the England Sevens program since making his debut back in Dubai in 2008 and last year in Hong Kong he played his 50th consecutive World Sevens Series tournament.
For every other country in the European series, the upcoming third leg in Exeter this weekend is a battle to try and qualify for the Rio Olympics.
But, having claimed a fourth place finish in the World Series, England have already guaranteed Team GB a place in Brazil next summer and can afford to test out some of their lesser-known names.
Hayter only joined the England Sevens set-up permanently last year after time in the Premiership with Wasps and he admits that the influence of former Tring RFC star Rodwell will have a big bearing at Sandy Park.
“It’s great having some of the new guys coming into the side. There are a lot of fresh faces around and that’s a sign of the exciting talent we have here,” Hayter said.
“Most of the boys here who are now playing on the World Series started in these European tournaments.
“So it’s a massively useful place to start, and a good leveller for the World Series and a good warm-up for that.
“James (Rodwell) has bags of experience obviously. He has over 60 caps now and it’s not only the new guys that all learn off him,” he said.
“The more experienced guys still take a lot on board from him, and he is a very big part of the squad still.
James has bags of experience obviously. He has over 60 caps now and it’s not only the new guys that all learn off him.Charlie Hayter
“Experience is vital in sevens. You need to have a cool head in the pressure situations, as you haven’t got much time to make critical decisions.
“Having guys in there like James who have been there before, when they are tired and fatigued, having to make a clear decision, it really helps.”
England get to play in front of a home crowd every year in the Twickenham leg of the World Series while Europe’s competition saw them head to Manchester last year.
But the south coast is calling in 2015 and Sandy Park – also a host venue for the 2015 Rugby World Cup – will have home advantage for England as they look to improve on the first two rounds where they have failed to make the cup final.
“We’re really looking forward to the Exeter tournament. It’s another chance to play in front of a home crowd, and Exeter is a fantastic hub of rugby at the moment so we can’t wait to get out there,” he added.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable at Twickenham earlier this season, as it is every year, and the boys have been saying they expect the atmosphere to be as good in Exeter as well.
“We really want to use the home crowd to our advantage as it is massive for us. They really make a big difference and hopefully we can put in a good performance and they’ll see us through.”
The Rugby Europe Seven at Sandy Park, catch them if you can! Tickets available from www.exeterchiefs.co.uk