Wellington champions England are being urged to keep on improving as they prepare for this weekend’s USA Sevens in Las Vegas.
After stuttering in opening stages of the IRB Sevens World Series, they beat hosts New Zealand, Spain, Scotland and Samoa before seeing off Kenya 24-19 in last weekend’s dramatic final.
Head coach Ben Ryan will field the same squad with captain Rob Vickerman passed fit after a clash of heads with team mate Tom Powell in Wellington.
And they want to hit the ground running in Friday’s opening matches against Fiji and Scotland before Saturday’s final pool game against Portugal and the knockout stages that follow.
Fiji won the opening leg of the Series in Australia last October but didn’t reach the quarterfinals in Wellington and were beaten by Scotland, Australia and Canada.
“We’ll have the same squad after a couple of tests and Rob Vickerman is fit to play,” said Ryan.
“There are lots of things we want to improve and our goal this week is to get better. First of all, Fiji never have two bad tournaments in a row, so no-one’s getting carried away in our camp.
“The injuries we had earlier in the season are starting to go away but from an internal point of view we’ve still got lots of things we want to get better at. We’ve had one good tournament and we want to have a lot more of those.
“What did please me last weekend was the mindset from everybody involved. The players were hurt by what had happened in the first three legs, they were really well led by Rob Vickerman and they weren’t going to take a backward step.”
Sheffield-based forward Powell lifted the silverware in Wellington after Sam Edgerley’s try clinched the extra time victory.
He highlighted England’s defensive work as the key to their success in Wellington along the return of Matt Turner and Christian Lewis-Pratt from injury.
“We kept ourselves in the game – with things like Marcus Watson’s key tackle – then getting our hands on the trophy was a very proud moment for everyone,” said Powell.
“Our mindset in defence has changed a bit over the last couple of months and the desire to get the ball back was obvious.
“We’ve worked so hard in the last two months, so getting out of the group gave us some confidence and it was great to have CLP [Lewis-Pratt] and Matt back.
“Then you have the likes of Dan Norton, who as well as scoring tries is doing lots of other stuff when we haven’t got the ball and leading by example.”
England Sevens: Dan Bibby, John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Sam Edgerley, Christian Lewis-Pratt, Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman (captain), Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams.
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