- Middleton wants England to cement fourth-place standing
- England face Brazil, Canada and hosts Netherlands in Amsterdam
Head Coach Simon Middleton has challenged England Women’s Sevens to finish above Russia at the final leg of IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Amsterdam this weekend.
That result would see them cement fourth place on the season ladder and Middleton, who took up his current role ahead of the Atlanta leg in February, believes his charges are more than capable of delivering.
Having made some marked tactical alterations since arriving, the former Leeds Carnegie guru is extremely proud of how England have come on.
“What I wanted to do was look at the particular make-up of the squad we had,” said Middleton, whose team face hosts Netherlands in a tricky opener on Friday before completing their Pool A schedule with ties against Brazil and Canada.
“It was about adapting a gameplan to firstly suit where we want to go, and also suit the players we have got. We want to build the whole philosophy of the sevens programme around players who can think and play.
“Previously we had tried to go wide a lot. That is fine when you have a lot of pace in the side. We have some pace, but not an abundance of it, so we like to play a more close-quarter, physical game that suits our thinking and our style.
“Ultimately it will be about getting a whole balance. As we bring more pace into the side, we’ll be able to take on teams in whatever capacity we want.
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“I came in with the girls joint-sixth in the series and we changed a lot. They’ve had a lot to deal with and take on board, so to break away from Spain and the USA and close the gap on Russia is very pleasing.
“We want to finish above Russia – if we do that, there’s not a lot else we could have done from the situation that we were in. We’ll be pretty pleased with that.”
Heather Fisher is a senior figure among England’s 12-player squad and was bullish on her own aims.
“I’d like to win it,” she added, speaking from last week’s training camp in Guildford. “I don’t think you ever set out not to win. You want to be the best you can be, both individually and as a team, and come together and play.
“Realistically, we’re aiming for top three. We’re a team that is worthy of that and very capable of it too. We just need to pull it together consistently under pressure and play what’s in front of us.”
Richmond’s Abigail Chamberlain will again captain the side, and – with last month's quarter-final loss to Canada in China fresh in her mind – outlined her intention to finish the Series on a high note.
“Personally, I’d like to turn it around against Canada after falling short against them last time. They’re a very good team so we’ll have to play very well.
“We want to finish with a bang and so the rest of the world what we are capable of. It’s our last chance this season to do that, so there’s nothing to lose.”