November 27 - Rugby sevens inclusion in the Olympics will see the smaller countries invest more into the sport, England's record-breaking fly-half Ben Gollings (pictured) predicted today.
Gollings and his teammates, who arrived in Dubai last night for the start of the 2009-2010 International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens World Series, which opens there next week, admitted that there were several nations who can realistically challenge at this level and that they cannot take anything for granted in a group that includes Kenya, Russia and the United States.
He said: "All these teams pack a punch, especially Kenya.
"And the inclusion of sevens in the Olympics may just have seen some extra investment for the smaller teams who could surprise us."
Gollings, who with 2,042 points is the all-time leading points-scorer in sevens history, hopes not just one better in Dubai, where they came second to South Africa in last season, but improve their third-place finish in the World Series too.
He said: "Dubai is massive for us.
"It's a big marker, especially for our young players who today had their first real test as part of the squad.
"We reached four finals and won two of them last season but, in terms of our goals, we want to use Dubai to improve that and today gave us a chance to really work together as a team.
"We have worked hard to get here.
"This is a great tournament and we are looking to start our season off on the right note."
November 2009: Gollings heads England squad for Dubai