- England skipper looks to build on impressive Gold Coast performance
- “I’ll do my talking on the pitch and hopefully the boys will follow my lead” – Powell
Tom Powell believes England’s third-place finish on the Gold Coast last month has given them a sturdy base to build on at the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai this weekend.
Powell will skipper the side once more, and while the intense heat of the United Arab Emirates promises to feel far different to frosty autumn training sessions on these shores, the 28 year-old seemed humbled by the prospect of leading his country again.
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Having been captained by Chris Robshaw in his formative years at Millfield School, he also appeared well aware of the need to work in harness with recently-appointed head coach Simon Amor.
“It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve achieved in my career,” said Powell, who made his debut on the IRB circuit in February 2010. “Representing your country at any level in any sport is an amazing achievement, then to be asked to captain your country is the ultimate honour in my opinion.
“I’ll do my talking on the pitch and hopefully the boys will follow my lead. We all understand our roles and what we bring to the team – that is what Simon has really emphasised.
“He’s tried to make us aware of what he wants from every individual. In terms of influencing the other players, all I can do is my individual job. If the rest of the boys do that, we’ll be in a good position. We’ve got a heck of a team.”
Though last season’s sixth-placed finish was hugely underwhelming for Powell and his teammates, a record 47-0 thrashing of South Africa ended the opening leg of this campaign on a very promising note.
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England face Fiji in Friday’s pool stage, where they will come up against former honcho Ben Ryan in his new role in charge of the mercurial Pacific Islanders.
And though Powell said Dubai victories in 2010 and 2011 will breed confidence in the squad, he highlighted the importance of learning from the defensive approaches that Amor has instilled since coming in.
“On the field, the biggest change has been our defence,” he explained. “Last year we had a one-structure defence and we’d go hunting teams a lot. Sometimes that worked really well, sometimes it broke down.
“This year we’ve re-assessed and we’ve looked at having different options against different teams at different stages in the game. We’ve worked a lot more on tackling technique with contact in training as well.
“In Dubai it’s usually nice weather – the firm pitch normally suits our pace and guys with quick feet and vision. It’s also an amazing place to play for an English person because of the amount of ex-pats over there.
“The atmosphere is fantastic – it’s early in the year so everyone is hungry and fresh. Hopefully we can build on Australia out there.”