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England Sevens squad reflect on first day in George

09 December 2006

Friday 8th December 2006

Quotes from England Sevens squad in South Africa

Simon Amor (London Wasps, captain) said, "It was a really tough group for us today.  Wales were hard first up, and Portugal are a great up and coming sevens team who are playing in all eight IRB Sevens tournaments this year. Argentina can beat any team on their day so it was a good effort by the boys to top the pool.  Today was the best day this squad has had so far this trip.  The youngsters are all coming good. We face Samoa tomorrow who are an extremely physical side and we will need all the wheels we have in this squad to guarantee a win."

Andy Vilk (Sale Sharks) said, "Wales played well and we knew they would be physical.  I think we got trapped into not playing as expansive rugby as we can.  In the game against Portugal we were approaching our best form and everyone fully understood their role.  There was extra motivation as we knew we had to win the game.  The youngsters played really well especially Danny Gray whose kick offs made it very hard for Portugal to get in the game, as we had all the possession. 

"Samoa will be a very physical game.  We have played them about seven times in the last year and it is always extremely close. We know it will be tough but what we showed today was that we have the ability to play well against the bigger sides."

David Doherty (London Wasps) said, "I am very happy with my performance today, and also with the performance of the whole squad. We really gelled well together today.   The match against Wales was hard.  No team is ever perfect in their opening match and they were an extremely spirited and passionate team.  I was absolutely delighted to score five tries in one day of a tournament. 

"We face Samoa tomorrow who we know will be tough.  I have seen them play at Under 19s level and know that they are a very passionate team.  They have good skills, are pacey and I know England have had a number of hard tests against them in the last year.  There is a lot of history between the two sides and it should be a fantastic match."

Danny Gray (Bristol) said, "I really enjoyed making my England Sevens debut.  I was really pleased - and proud - to earn a start against Portugal and was involved earlier than I expected to to be honest. Although we reached a comfortable lead I have learned never to let my guard down in a match, especially in sevens. It was a special match to make my debut in as we had to win it.  I lived off the energy of the rest of the team and the atmosphere in the changing room before the match was electric.

"I feel a lot fitter this week, having played sevens for two weeks now. [Danny played for the St George Samurai team last week in Dubai.]  With St George we had a tough group and the squad came through well.  We learned how to win tough games, and that has taught me well this week. When we played Argentina there was definitely a lot of fear and nerves on board as we knew if we lost we were pretty much out of the tournament.  I prefer to play in that kind of circumstance however, and think I play better under pressure. The best teams in the world are those who play well under pressure, and today we showed that we could do that."

Rob Thirlby (Gloucester) said, "I was pleased with my four tries today but know it was more down to my team mates and their performance than mine.  I am loving every second of being back involved in the sevens circuit, having missed most of last season due to XVs commitments at Gloucester. Even though we drew against Wales I never doubted that we would qualify for the quarter finals.  This morning against Wales we just didn't turn up.  I actually think we are a better side for drawing against them.  If we had won we may have been complacent later on in the tournament. It gave us the jolt we perhaps needed.

"The match against Portugal allowed us all to express ourselves and really enjoy the sevens environment. It was the first time this squad has really showed how to play sevens and everyone was fulfilling their roles in an unselfish way.

"I was impressed with the youngsters today.  They learned a lot today.  David Doherty was really exciting and showed us the wheels that we knew he had within him, and Danny (Gray)'s kick offs were fantastic.  He dictated the pace of the game for us and is just the playmaker we need."

Michael Hills (Sale Sharks), said, "Any match between Wales and England is always going to be hard and they will always come out fighting.  I think we tried to complicate our game too much against them.  We have had seven days without a match and tried to go out there and play a very complicated game plan.  In the second and third matches we learned that playing simple rugby wins games. We had patterns which we agreed to play but just didn't do them against the Welsh. 

"Against Portugal we all played together as a team.  We were all unselfish and it was a big team performance.  I don't think I would play rugby if I didn't enjoy the team aspect of the game, and really thrived in the matches when everyone gelled. We are learning that to win games you really have to play for the person in the shirt next to you, and go to extreme lengths for your team mates, every time you step onto the pitch.  I think it helps that we have spent two weeks together now as you start to read what people are going to do, and understand how they play a lot better with time."

Charlie Amesbury (NEC Harlequins), said, "I was nervous today before making my debut as I worried about how big the step up to international level would be.  When I first came on during the match against Portugal I was really buzzing and had tons of adrenaline.  It was awesome to score a try on my debut. 

"I think the biggest difference at this level is defence. There are a lot more holes in defence at a lower level, so you have to have a lot more nous to know how to succeed at this level.  The more training I do the more it is becoming instinctive.  I am feeling good tonight but am looking forward to going to bed and getting some sleep!  I can't wait to play again tomorrow and am really excited about getting back onto the pitch."



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