- Back looks to move on from broken leg in last year's tournament
- “I’ve got a few demons to put to bed” – Tom Mitchell
Versatile back Tom Mitchell has unfinished business in Dubai this week as England prepare for the second leg of this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series.
Mitchell broke a leg against Samoa on the opening day of last year’s tournament, then watched as a frustrated spectator as England failed to reach the quarter finals.
But the 24 year-old from Sussex returned in the latter stages of last season to feature in England’s third-place finishes in Glasgow and London before reaching the final of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.
Under new Head Coach Simon Amor, England started the season with a creditable third-place finish in the first leg of the latest HSBC Sevens World Series in Australia.
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They now have six more weeks of work on their new methods behind them and launch their bid for a third Dubai title in four years with pool matches against Canada, the USA and Fiji on Friday, November 29.
“I’ve got a few demons to put to bed and I try not to think about it too much,” said Mitchell.
“Last year I was really excited about playing out here and having a good tournament so to have to pull out with a broken leg in the second game was pretty brutal and salt was rubbed in the wound we didn’t do very well here.
“We’ve come back, everybody’s very fit and strong this year so I’m not thinking too much about righting any wrongs. I’m just feeling very good about getting out there.
“Going into Gold Coast we were still getting used to the changes. There’s a much more settled feel to the squad now, not only among the players, but interaction with the management as well and all the changes that have come in have time to bed down a bit. We’re in a good place to crack on and start winning tournaments now. We’ve got the quality to do it.”
Amor made four changes to the squad for the second leg of the series in Dubai, bringing in Alex Gray, who makes his debut, Jeff Williams, Marcus Watson and Sam Edgerley.
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In former national Under 20 captain Gray and Mike Ellery – enjoying his second season as an contracted player – England have two powerful and athletic forwards who Mitchell believes will make a sustained impact on the campaign.
“Alex is a quality footballer, he’s got amazing skills, his hands are great, he’s got good feet and he’s hugely physical as well,” said Mitchell.
“I was holding the bag for his tackling yesterday and I won’t be doing that in a hurry again because he’s got some real power behind him. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do. He’s shown us in training, he’s worked hard for his spot in the side and I’m really looking forward to seeing him on the World Series.”
“Mike’s another hugely physical specimen. It’s amazing to have a guy so big and so strong who can run that quickly. He’s one of the quickest in the squad and that’s a nightmare for defences, so to have that in our armoury, breaking holes and making breaks, is a real blessing.”