- Macus Watson and Sam Edgerley set to make season bows in Dubai
- Pair applaud impact of recently-appointed Simon Amor
Speedsters Marcus Watson and Sam Edgerley pride themselves on their finishing prowess and ability to beat defenders, but both men readily admit that Simon Amor’s focus on defence will prove vital if England are to secure a third Dubai title in five years.
Although head coach Amor had been in charge for barely a month at the opening leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series on the Gold Coast in September, a third-place finish – sealed by a record defeat of South Africa – brought plenty of encouraging signs.
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One of these was heightened desire and physicality when not in possession, something especially evident thorughout the agonisingly close semi-final defeat to eventual winners New Zealand.
And while Watson was only in Australia as traveling reserve, he has been called into the 12-man playing squad for Dubai and explained how important this renewed emphasis on defence could be.
“We’ve been working on defence throughout pre-season and that’s pretty much our main aim – to get a lot better in that area,” he said.
“We’ve done OK so far, but now it’s about pushing on. We get great support in Dubai and that drives us – it’s like having 13 people in our squad.
“I was only 20 when we won [the 2011 leg] there and it was probably my favourite tournament, so there are happy memories there for me.
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“It was gutting not to be involved [on the Gold Coast] so now it’s only about getting back in, it’s about making an impression and hoping I stay here.”
This will be 22 year-old Edgerley’s first appearance in Dubai’s main event, but having played in the invitational tournament at the same venue three times previosuly, he is already aware of the “unbelievable atmosphere.”
And with England set to face Fiji and former head coach Ben Ryan in the pool stages on Friday, the Rosslyn Park scrum half – also a new call-up to a revamped group – seemed eager to impress at the start of Amor’s new regime.
“It’s pretty different [under Simon],” Edgerley said. “He’s set his stall out and brought in a couple of new things to add to the way we play.
“He’s very ‘his way or the highway’, which is good for our group because it’s very direct. We’ve really enjoyed having him around.”