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England Sevens look to take Gold Coast lessons to Dubai

15 October 2013

  • Tom Powell praises teammates for learning lessons from pool-stage defeat
  • Ellery, Burgess and Amor look forward to improving further in Dubai
Simon Amor briefs his players during his first tournament in charge

Photo: Getty Images

Tom Powell says England can’t wait to get back on the circuit after their third-place finish in the opening leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

New head coach Simon Amor had been in post for only a fortnight ahead of the Gold Coast Sevens, the first of nine events on the tour, and quickly introduced changes to the overall approach.

England learned from their pool-stage defeat to South Africa on day one to impress in the knockout stages, beating Fiji 26-12, pressing eventual winners New Zealand hard before going down 14-5 in the semi final and finishing with a record 47-0 third-place play-off victory over South Africa.

They now have six weeks to ingrain new defensive and attacking plans ahead of leg two in Dubai (November 29-30) where they face Fiji, Canada and the USA in the pool stages.

“The result against South Africa in the group taught us a lot and we took that into day two against Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa in the play-off to show how far we’ve come,” said Powell, who led England in the World Series for the first time last weekend.

“It’s difficult to unlearn your habits and your defensive style. It takes a lot to change the individual and collective way you play but the boys really bought into it. You’ve got to have total trust in each other.

“Now we go to Dubai. We love playing there and if we can stay on that learning curve it looks like there are exciting times ahead. The boys can’t wait to get back on the circuit.”

There were eye-catching individual performances as well as collective improvements to encourage Amor.

Mike Ellery only started two games last season but scored against Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa, switching from forward to centre in the final match.

He added: “I managed to get a full pre-season in this year which I didn’t manage last season when I spent eight or nine months out, so I’m a lot fitter and playing more has given me more confidence.

Simon Amor briefs his players during his first tournament in charge

Photo: Getty Images

“We spoke after the first day about building on each performance. Every time we go out we want to get better and I think we did that excellently particularly to beat South Africa 47-0 after we’d lost 22-14 to them on the first day.

“I’d been doing some training with the backs and covering those positions and Simon [Amor] asked if I was up for it against South Africa so I lined up at centre on their ball and wing on our ball. Dan Norton talked me through the whole thing really well.

“We’ve got four or five training camps now before Dubai and we can work more on the structure of our game, cut down on the mistakes and hopefully go on to win the next two tournaments in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.”

Former Cornish Pirates flanker Phil Burgess made his debut and grabbed two tries in the play-off. His impact vindicated a summer move from the Greene King IPA Championship side.

“It’s been a great experience,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect but playing against Fiji and South Africa was great and I couldn’t have asked for more. I’ve been thrown in the deep end and hope to do it again. Getting my cap was wonderful.

“Day one didn’t go exactly to plan but this is about development. We worked on a few goals in each game and got what we wanted. It’s been a good start.”

Summing up his first tournament as head coach, Amor said: “We had a big challenge against a very talented Fijian side and our defensive focus came across in a good performance. Then against New Zealand we got the breakdown a bit wrong but in terms of defence and tackling we were much better.

“I was very pleased with what we did against what was a tired South Africa. We were ruthless and our mindset was good.

“It’s important to recognise that we’ve only just started working on a new style of playing for two weeks. We’ve focused on defence and haven’t really looked at our attacking game yet.

“Playing on the second day there was a real step up and it’s important to see we’re making steps forward. We took a step back on day one so to improve and finish third was a good reward for all the effort the boys put in.”