- England Sevens blood new names in Japan and Hong Kong
- Amor confident latest recruits will contribute
Simon Amor admits the four new faces in his squad for Tokyo and Hong Kong will be “thrown into the deep end”, but England Sevens’ Head Coach is confident each one has enough talent to excel at the highest level.
Heading into the next two legs in fourth position on the HSBC Sevens World Series ladder, England must make up ground on New Zealand and South Africa over the next two weekends to remain in contention for the overall title.
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Tokyo is first up starting on Saturday, followed by the traditionally raucous atmosphere of Hong Kong’s famous 40,000-seater stadium.
Reinforcing the developmental side to his role, Amor suggested the latest recruits – Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Sam Blanchet (Exeter Chiefs), Sam Stanley (Saracens) and Jack Walsh (Blackheath) – would absorb a great deal in such an environment.
“It was always my intention when I came on board to get sevens back into the RFU pathway and help develop guys for 15s and sevens,” he said.
“Jack Clifford is an outstandingly talented player and we’re really hopeful that sevens can help him kick on and fulfil his undoubted potential. He’s got good feet and acceleration, but it’s his defence where he’s excellent – strong in the tackle and over the ball at the breakdown. He’ll learn lots and bring lots too.
“Sam Blanchet is from Exeter Chiefs Academy. He was previously playing in the back row but has moved to the wing and he’s a very powerful young man. We’ve seen something that could be special there and it’s great that Exeter have given us a chance to develop him.
“Sam Stanley from Saracens is a very talented ball player and we’re looking to explore possibilities in that role. He’s got a lovely touch and creates space.
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“Jack Walsh is a player I’ve known about for a long time. He’s done a lot on the invitational circuit with Samurai and Templars and understands the game well. He’s young, too.”
England have yet to reach a final in 2013/4, a third-place finish on the Gold Coast their best return to date. Skipper Tom Mitchell, as well as other stalwarts such as James Rodwell and Chris Cracknell, will be itching to put that right as soon as possible.
Indeed, noting that May’s campaign-ending legs at Scotstoun and Twickenham would serve as significant motivation for his charges, Amor finished by urging the more established players to step up.
“It’s throwing the youngsters in at the deep end and they’ll make some mistakes, but they’ll learn too,” he explained.
“Having them around freshens things up but also puts onus on the leadership of the contracted players, both in training and in tournament time.
“We want to be successful – that’s true every time we play. Having four new guys in the team has its risks, but it’s very exciting.
“With an eye on the future – the Commonwealth Games, for instance – it’s a good time to blood them.”