- Former England star praises Ben Ryan’s coaching ethos
- Healey looking forward seeing young players shine in Hong Kong
Former England star Austin Healey has praised the coaching philosophy of England Sevens Head Coach Ben Ryan who he says has created a "great team atmosphere".
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Healey – who played international sevens in the nineties – said England had a wealth of talent emerging who would use the sevens to progress their international and club careers.
England go into this weekend’s tournament trailing the HSBC Sevens World Series leaders New Zealand by 18 points but Healey is convinced the sevens experience will develop the players.
"I think Ben Ryan has done a fantastic job," he said. "There is some good young talent in there. It helps having a huge gas man. But I like the way that they seem to play for each other – they have a great team atmosphere and also the way that Ben adopts the coaching philosophy of being quite relaxed.
"So if I had my time again it would something that I would love to have been involved in.
"It was a great experience and certainly helped in terms of my development as a player. I played in Hong Kong in 95, 96 and 97 and I was only capped in 97 and certainly playing in that really claustrophobic environment, and it’s a big environment, a big stage, helps you develop as a player.
"And we’ll see some of these players come through as we have in the past. I think it’s an opportunity really for a lot of players who maybe aren’t necessarily first choice in XVs to really progress their international and club prospects."
Looking ahead to this weekend’s tournament, Healey said he was looking forward to seeing Bristol’s Dan Norton in action.
The 23-year-old wing is second on the series scoring charts with 23 tries from the first five tournaments behind New Zealand’s Frank Halai.
"I think it’s really important in a sevens team to have someone with really searing pace and he can turn a game in an instant and we have seen that in a couple of occasions," Healey added. “But there are good players through-out that side. The forwards are strong.
"Isoa Damudamu is a great player and when you have someone of that physicality and pace it really helps."