- England Sevens Head Coach looks forward to “big, big occasion”
- “We just have to make sure we are all on the same page” – Amor
England Sevens Head Coach Simon Amor fully believes the side can thrive off vociferous home support at Twickenham this weekend and has urged his charges to immerse themselves in the heady atmosphere.
Skipper Tom Mitchell and co. come into the final leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series on the back of a plate win up in Glasgow, defying some technical uncertainty on the opening day to finish strongly, beating Australia and Kenya after a frustrating 14-12 quarter-final defeat to Fiji.
Photo: Getty Images
Having tweaked his squad to include the vast experience of Chris Cracknell, Christian Lewis-Pratt and Mathew Turner – who boast over 80 tournaments between them – Amor explained that the magnitude of the event had influenced his selection.
“As an England player, playing in front of a sell-out crowd at Twickenham is a big, big occasion,” he said. “That extra experience will almost certainly be a benefit.
“A few of the guys have been injured in recent weeks so it’s great to have them back and I’m sure they’ll relish the atmosphere. The guys like playing in front of a big crowd when there’s big noise and a huge crowd.
“In Hong Kong, our support was fantastic and it should be even better in front of our home crowd. Hopefully we can use that in a positive way and the guys can enjoy the weekend and the pressure that comes with it all.
“We just have to make sure we are all on the same page. We’ve been good at that in recent weeks and hopefully we can put everything into our first games.
“Crackers brings physicality and size. In the make-up of our team, that’s important. In Mat Turner, we’ve got someone who is one of the best finishers in the world on his day as well.
“Christian has come on a great deal in training in recent weeks – that’s in terms of his leadership, attack and defence. I’m really excited to see how he goes as well.”
Joined in an extremely competitive Group A by Argentina, Wales and runaway series champions New Zealand, England must be on their mettle from the very start. Amor wholeheartedly acknowledged that, as well as the vital importance of the breakdown.
Photo: Getty Images
Returning to the make-up of his 12-man squad, he then highlighted the contribution of Howard Packman, who retains his place thanks to an exhilarating maiden outing in Scotland. This campaign has been characterised by the progress of England’s younger players, and the pacey Northampton Saint really caught the eye.
“It was always my intention when I came on board to oversee a side that was pushing to win trophies,” Amor added.
“At the same time, I wanted to help develop young players for the 15-a-side game. Howard is an exceptionally talented guy. He’s only 18 years old and in the brief time he has been with us, he’s done some fantastic things.
“He scored a great try on debut in Glasgow [against Japan] from 50 yeards. Defensively, he was excellent against some experienced finishers.
“This will be fantastic for his development and hopefully he can take that on in the Junior World Championship and back at Northampton Saints. He’s a massive prospect.”
Finally, Amor turned to his captain Tom Mitchell, currently leading the way at the top of individual scoring charts for the entire HSBC Sevens World Series.
Photo: Getty Images
The former Oxford University fly half has garnered 310 points including 27 tries, putting him 70 ahead of the nearest challenger, Fijian flyer Samisoni Viriviri.
And while Amor also outlined the influence of other more established names, there was great praise for Mitchell.
“I’ve been delighted with how Mitch has grown this series. Every tournament he seems to be getting better and better. The exciting thing for England is that his progress is still on an upward curve. Hopefully with the Commonwealth Games coming up, we can see further improvements.
“His leadership and defence are getting better, but it’s really his attack and how he controls the game that makes him a critical part of our team.
“At the same time, there are a number of guys who have stepped up. Dan Bibby’s come on a great deal this season, Dan Norton’s playing some of his best rugby again, Marcus Watson is scoring tries and James Rodwell is performing.”