Former Varsity Cup star Mathew Turner has been named in the invitational Help for Heroes squad ahead of Saturday’s season-opening Middlesex Sevens tournament at Twickenham in London.
Turner burst onto the Varsity Cup scene in dramatic fashion with UCT last season (he was the top try-scorer as the Ikeys made the final), but has since been snapped up by English club Bristol and also fast-tracked into the England Sevens squad.
However, with Turner’s club not involved in the Guinness Premiership this season – and thereby not eligible to play in the Middlesex Sevens – he will instead get a chance to turn out at England’s annual Premiership Sevens extravaganza under the watchful eye of national Sevens coach Ben Ryan in this exciting invitational line-up.
Mat, of course, played a number of IRB Sevens Series tournaments for England last season – including making his debut in his native South Africa when he scored some crucial tries in the IRB Sevens tournament in George.
Turner, however, is not the only ex-Varsity Cup player plying his trade on the IRB World Sevens Series, with UCT teammate Kyle Brown part of the champion SA Sevens team, along with Shimlas star Robert Ebersohn and Maties’ Chase Minnaar.
Joining Mat in this talented Help for Heroes squad this weekend is England Sevens teammate Uche Oduoza, as well as former British & Irish Lions and England hooker Andy Titterrell – a very mobile front row forward.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for me to return to Twickenham and represent Help for Heroes, it’s a great cause and one I’m proud to be involved with,” said Titterrell, who is currently unattached – having played for both the Sale Sharks and Gloucester in the past.
“Ben Ryan has had a very successful season with England Sevens, so I’m really looking forward to working with him and learning from the master!”
The Help for Heroes, British Army, Kukri White Hart Marauders and ULR Samurai Sevens form the four invitational sides which will compete against the 12 Guinness Premiership squads showcasing their new signings in preparation for what is shaping up to be a competitive 2009/10 season.
And with Sevens stars like Mat Turner and Uche Oduoza in the mix, do not be surprised if this Help for Heroes squad – which is playing in aid of the charity that supports the care and rehab for injured British service personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan – also achieves plenty on the playing field come Saturday.
Help for Heroes Sevens squad:
Chris Brightwell (Birmingham & Solihull)
Tom Powell (Cambridge RFC)
Greg Barden (Royal Navy)
Andy Titterrell (Unattached)
Simon Hunt (Birmingham & Solihull)
Rory Hutton (Heriot’s)
Peter Jericevich (Glasgow Hawks)
Mark Woodrow (Birmingham & Solihull)
Tal Selley (Birmingham & Solihull)
Mathew Turner (Bristol Rugby)
Uche Oduoza (Unattached)
David Akinlui (Unattached)
Coach: Ben Ryan