- England fourth in HSBC Seven World Series ladder heading into fourth tournament
- Amor calls for squad to keep building identity
Ahead of his fourth tournament as head coach of England Sevens in Las Vegas next weekend, Simon Amor believes his charges are reacting well to the demands he has set and moulding into a cohesive unit.
Though the most recent leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium saw England sink to group-stage defeats against Samoa and Argentina, Amor appeared content with a current standing of fourth in the season rankings.
Indeed, he applauded his players for working “very, very hard” to take on his ideas and looked forward to improving further across the Atlantic.
“The pitch [in Las Vegas] is narrow – only about 58 metres wide, which is considerably narrower than most pitches,” Amor said. “That will make for breakdown-heavy contests and probably a little bit more kicking.
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“We won’t change the way we play, though. We’re trying to create our own identity as a team – how we defend, how we attack – and we’re going to keep on doing that regardless of where we are playing.”
Chris Cracknell, Christian Lewis-Pratt and Mike Ellery, who starred in Dubai back in November, return to England’s 12-man squad, which will be led by Tom Mitchell for the first time.
Explaining each of the new selections, Amor emphasised the importance of striking the right blend in the bid to reach a cup final for the first time since taking the reins from Ben Ryan.
“We’ve got some got some good physical carriers and some guys with pace,” he added. “It’s about us trying to get the balance. Chris Cracknell is an experienced leader and has a fantastic attitude. He’ll have a positive influence on the squad. Mike was a stand-out player for us in Dubai and we’re hoping for him to step up another level again.
“Christian is an experienced player and we’re just looking at our different options in those playmaker roles. Christian is one of the best around [in that position] and will complement the other boys.
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“When I came on board one of my goals was to drive the leadership in this group and give other people a chance to captain the side. Tom Powell has done an outstanding job in the first three tournaments and his leadership skills will still be there whether he is captain or not.
“Tom Mitchell has the potential to be an outstanding England Sevens captain – he’s shown those qualities already.”
Mike Catt, Stuart Lancaster’s Attacking Skills Coach, has been part of England’s preparation for Las Vegas and Amor maintained that parallels with the senior set-up would ensure sevens remains a launchpad to the Test arena – as it has been in the past for the likes of Tom Croft and Christian Wade.
“It’s great to have someone of Mike’s experience down – we’ve had Andy Farrell and Jon Callard in previously and it’s about connecting sevens with what the rest of the RFU are doing.
“That way, sevens can become part of the elite player pathway for young players.”