Ridnell misses out as Eagles shuffle Sevens pack

GIANT forward Tony Ridnell has been left out of the American Eagles' carefully selected squad for the Hongkong Sevens.

Ridnell and Sevens newcomer Tom Billups are part of a 13-man pool for the Canberra and Fijian Sevens.

But they will be replaced by experienced Hongkong campaigner Will Brewington and Jim Burgett for the Hongkong Sevens.

The Americans are using the three tournaments to find the best 10-man combination for their assault on the World Cup Sevens from April 16 to 18 at Murrayfield, Scotland.

Also in the pool are Gary Hein, Jon Hinkin, Mike Telkamp, Chris O'Brien, Andy Dujakovich, Tom Brewer, David Dean, Scott Stephens and Brian Vizard.

Stephens will miss the Canberra event on March 13, but will take part in the Fijian tournament in the weekend before the Hongkong event, which will take place on March 27 to 28.

The Eagles' North American counterparts Canada have chosen a formidable squad for their sevens campaign, which will also start in Canberra and end with the World Cup.

Nine of the players in their 10-man squad were involved in last year's game against England at Wembley.

And the squad are likely to remain intact throughout their three-nation World Cup build-up, which will take in Canberra, Fiji and the Hongkong Sevens.

Canada, the 1991 Hongkong Sevens semi-finalists, have seven players in their squad who took part in the last 15s World Cup.

Chris Tynan is the only member of the sevens squad who did not play in the defeat by England, the first rugby union international to be held at Wembley Stadium because of renovation work at Twickenham.

However, Tynan, along with Scott Stewart, Steve Gray, Pat Palmer, David Lougheed, John Graf and the brilliant Gord MacKinnon, was part of the Canada team that reached the quarter-finals of the 1991 World Cup in Europe.

The squad, coached by Ian Birtwell, also includes Al Charron, regular Hongkong visitor Julian Loveday and Ian Gordon.

The presence of Canada will be of particular significance to Hongkong, who are in the same Pool for the World Cup Sevens in Scotland.

The Canberra Sevens, on March 13, is one of several pre-World Cup tournaments around the region.

Also taking part in Canberra are Australia, Fiji, Scotland, Western Samoa, the United States, Hongkong, New South Wales, Queensland, the New Zealand champions and two other Australian teams.

The Canberra tournament is also being used as a final trial for the Australian sevens squad.

Fiji are organising a one-off 12-team sevens tournament in the week before the Hongkong event to give their team added match practice.

Canada: Scott Stewart, Steve Gray, Pat Palmer, David Lougheed, John Graf, Chris Tynan, Gord MacKinnon, Al Charron, Julian Loveday, Ian Gordon. Coach: Ian Birtwell.

US: Gary Hein, Jon Hinkin, Mike Telkamp, Chris O'Brien, Andy Dujakovich, Tom Brewer, David Dean, Tom Billups, Tony Ridnell, Brian Vizard, Will Brewington, Jim Burgett, Scott Stephens.

Fiji are strong favourites to win the Hongkong event for the fourth successive year before their bid to claim the official title of world champions in Scotland.