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Birthday boy Dan Norton wants Hong Kong present

21 March 2012

  • Tournament win would be icing on cake for England wing
  • Fitness and attention to detail can pay off in Hong Kong

Wing Dan Norton can celebrate his birthday by passing a new landmark for England and going to the top of the try-scoring charts in the HSBC Sevens World Series.

The former Gloucester and Bristol paceman is 24 tomorrow (Thursday, March 22) on the eve of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

His next and 72nd career try will take him past former captain Simon Amor into fourth place on England’s all-time list behind Ben Gollings (220), Richard Haughton (106) and Rob Thirlby (101).

Dan Norton has scored 23 tries in the opening five tournaments in the HSBC Sevens World Series

Photo: Getty Images

Five more would see him overtake injured New Zealander Frank Halai – who misses the next two tournaments through injury – as the leading scorer on the World Series.

But the birthday present he really wants for England to lift the Hong Kong title after missing out in last season’s final.

“I’d just like us to win regardless of anything else - I just want to win the tournament,” said Norton.

“It’d be a nice present on Sunday evening if we’re standing on top with the cup. I can’t really ask for anything more than that. We’ve hit a final and a semi final here in the last two years and now we want to go one step further.”

The three-day, 12-team tournament sees England play Argentina (12:30 GMT) on Friday, March 23, and Kenya (03:20) and Samoa (11:30) on Saturday, March 24 before the following day’s knock-out stages.

The Hong Kong format is different to the series’s usual 16-team programme – a second 12-team competition takes place in Hong Kong this year to promote three new ‘core’ teams into the global event – which means no straightforward pool games.

In the build-up, England have worked hard on their fitness since defeats against New Zealand and Argentina in Las Vegas last month – and on their approach to the detail of winning big games.

“We’ve worked over the last four or five weeks to better our fitness levels. There’s been more running, more gym work and more out-of-hours training to get those levels back up to the top,” said Norton.

“We’ve maybe lacked a bit of clarity in what we’re doing on the field and we’re being more thorough in meetings, revising what we’ve learned and trying to get as much information out of each other as we can. It’s about turning over every stone and making sure we are thorough in our processes.

“Regardless of who you’re playing – whether it’s a core team or not – we’ve just got to go out and execute our game plan properly and if we do that we can win. The times we’ve lost, we haven’t stuck to that plan 100 per cent like we should have.

“Argentina got one over us in Vegas so this is a chance to turn the tables on them, although every group is going to be very hard with the set-up of the tournament. It’ll certainly be good for the neutral!

“We know what we’ve got to do and that’s to win six games if we want to win Hong Kong, regardless of who we’re facing.”