DUBAI // When the Sevens Series last came to Dubai, Christian Wade of the Wasps academy was watching England's fortunes unfold on television at home. This time it is a different story for Wade, who will take time out from his psychology and sports science course at St Mary's University in Twickenham to represent his country, having also impressed for the England Under 18 and Under 20 sides.
"I've been around the professional rugby scene at Wasps, this call-up to a senior squad is a whole new experience for me though and I'm learning a lot," he said. "I can't really explain how I felt when I heard I was coming. It definitely hasn't sunk in yet and I can't put it into one word. It's a big deal. "Last year I was still at school and watching this tournament on television: now I'm part of it. It's unbelievable."
With England finishing runners-up to South Africa last year and claiming an overall third in the Series, Wade knows that as a new face, all eyes will be on him in their opening Pool C game against the USA on Friday. "Last year there were more experienced players in the team and this year we know that there is new talent and potential but we also have pressure because there are standards to maintain," he said.
Teammate Dan Caprice, 20, has more experience of England's sevens set-up, but said he is still learning the ropes. "I was in Hong Kong last season but I know I still have a lot to learn," said Caprice. "There is also the small factor of 50,000 people in the stadium here this weekend and I don't know how you get used to that. "We are going to go into each game with the view of just playing the best rugby we can. We have a decent group [Russia, USA and Kenya] and we have the best support from experienced players like Ben Gollings and our coach."