Old foes: Dan Norton tackles Samoa's Paul Perez during the Hong Kong Sevens

ENGLAND WILL face Samoa, Kenya and Spain on the opening day of the HSBC Sevens World Series on October 13.

The draw was made today for the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia, the first of nine legs in this season’s series which concludes with the Marriott London Sevens next May.

England finished third in last season’s competition, with Samoa in fourth place and Kenya 12th. Spain are a new ‘core’ team after finishing second in the qualifying competition in Hong Kong this year.

This season England’s expanded squad of 19 full-time players, warmed up last weekend against Spain and France in Villajoyosa, were led by head coach Ben Ryan.

Ryan said: “We’re in excellent shape after a very demanding pre-season programme and standards in the squad have been driven up by the intense competition for places.

“The draw for the Gold Coast brings home just how close we are now to the kick-off of what promises to be the biggest season ever for sevens. We’re in the Olympic cycle now with the HSBC Sevens World Series followed immediately by the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow next June.

“Every draw is a difficult one now: Samoa were tough to play throughout last season, Kenya always give us tough games and we know Spain really well – they’ve got lots of talent and will want to prove they deserve their place at the top table.”

The cross-over for the knock-out stages means England potentially face Fiji or Australia in the quarter-finals if they make it out of Pool C.

Champions New Zealand face South Africa, USA and newcomers Canada in Pool A, while Wales are in a competitive Pool D with Argentina, France and Portugal.

Gold Coast Sevens draw:
Pool A – New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada
Pool B – Fiji, Australia, Scotland, Tonga
Pool C – England, Samoa, Kenya, Spain
Pool D – Argentina, Wales, France, Portugal

England Sevens squad:
Dan Bibby, John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Chris Cracknell, Sam Edgerley, Mike Ellery, Christian Lewis-Pratt, James Lightfoot-Brown, Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Mark Odejobi, Ollie Phillips, Tom Powell, Jack Preece, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams.