- Dan Norton aiming to match last season’s 52 try haul for England Sevens
- England Sevens in action at Gold Coast Sevens this weekend
Dan Norton returns refreshed after his summer break and is quicker than ever going into the first leg of the new HSBC Sevens World Series.
The record-breaking England Sevens wing was the top scorer in the global tour last season with an England record 52 touchdowns in the nine tournaments.
Norton, from Bristol, has gone on to clock an astonishing 4.62 secs in a 40m sprint test this summer.
That's two hundredths of a second faster than Usain Bolt's 40m split when he ran 9.58sec to set the 100m world record in 2009.
He says the improvement is as much due to a four-week summer break as the gym and track work he's put in during the close season.
And he wants to pick up where he left off when England open their account against Spain, France and South Africa on day one of the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia at the weekend.
Photo: Getty Images
"It was a good season and I enjoyed it quite a lot," says Norton of the 2012-13 campaign.
"The boys have given me a lot of jip about it but without them I wouldn't have got there as well. This year it's about continuing in that same vein and to get back that confidence I had. That's the main thing.
"The tries will hopefully come and I'll support the boys and vice versa. I just want to get myself playing well. That's the aim.
"I'm a little bit quicker and I think that's down to the rest. That's what I've been telling them: Give me a few weeks more off and I'll get quicker!”
England finished last season with third-places at the Glasgow and the Marriott London Sevens and were runners-up at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, then won tournaments in Lyon and Bucharest to take the European title, with Norton returning to feature in the latter.
The team are now under new management with Head Coach Simon Amor a fortnight into the job.
His emphasis has been on improving specific areas of their game, particularly in defence, and Norton has enjoyed working under the former England Sevens captain.
"Simon has only been with us for a couple of weeks but he's brought a lot of new stuff in,” Norton added. “He's very detailed in what he wants to do and it's very easy to digest and take on board.
"Defensively last year we weren't as good as we wanted to be and he's seen that as a key area to improve on. We've been doing a lot of 1 v 1 and 2 v 1 stuff. The whole defensive system has not been rejigged but it's been spruced up a little bit more.
"He's very animated, jumping up and down and full of energy, which is great for us as a group because we're full of energy and what he's doing is rubbing off on us."
You can watch England in action at the Gold Coast Sevens from 6am each day on SkySports 2HD (Saturday) and SkySports 4HD (Sunday).