Prolific Turner welcomes pressure

Tue, 09 Oct 2012 18:57
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England’s South African-born speedster Mat Turner is happy to be a marked man going into the start of the Sevens World Series.

England’s South African-born speedster Mat Turner is happy to be a marked man going into the start of the Sevens World Series.

The 24-year-old was the leading try-scorer in the 2011-12 campaign, touching down 38 times, once more than his teammate Dan Norton, in the course of the nine tournaments.

Turner was also a nominee for World Player of the Year – an award he covets in 2012-13 – but he argues any extra attention coming his way will simply open up more space for the other players in an England squad he believes is their ‘best ever’.

“Last year was my first proper year cementing a starting spot and it gave me an opportunity to build performances one after the other.” said Turner.

“It was my best year so far and that’s a tribute to [head coach] Ben Ryan changing the game plan to work for our individual strengths.

“I want to be player of the year this year. It was one of my goals last year and I was just short. Top try-scorer was never a goal but somehow the boys put me in the right place at the right time and I managed to beat Dan Norton by one. I’m sure he’ll beat me by two this year to show he’s the better try-scorer.

“Do I worry about pressure? I hope people look at me and say ‘what’s he going to produce?’ It’s more of a challenge and if they start marking me up more they’ll give our other guys more room. And you can’t give any of our guys half a yard.”

England start the 2012-13 series with a settled squad of capped players and 10 of the 12 in transit to the Gold Coast Sevens on October 13-14 have lifted titles, most recently in Dubai last December.

Added to that stability, Turner believes the squad are in better physical shape than ever for the punishing tournament format which sees them play six high-intensity games in two days.

He said: “This is the best squad we’ve had. I came in late into pre-season and I was shocked at the pace the guys were running at, their physicality and the condition they were in. It’s a tribute to the coaching staff that we’re in such great shape. If you watched a video of us training and compared it to a year ago, you’d think last year’s team was a semi-pro one. There’s been a huge leap.

“Last year we’d get to Day Two a bit bumped and bruised but now we’re the fittest we’ve ever been. Dan Norton broke the England fitness testing records and it didn’t even look like he was trying that hard. He just cruised. It was scary to watch him just glide along.

“That’s going to make a difference in the way we play. Everyone knows we’ve got wheels [speed]. Now we can keep running and running and when there’s 13 minutes 50 seconds on the clock we can still go 100metres and score a try.”

To mount a challenge for a first series title, though, England need to win more tournaments after a single victory in each of the last two years. They beat New Zealand only once last season and despite a winning record against Fiji, they finished behind the Islanders in third place.

“What lost us big games and finals last year was our mistakes and we’ve been focusing on that, on ourselves and what we do rather than on the opposition. If we do what we do, and do it right, we’ll win games,” added Turner.

“We’ve beaten New Zealand and Fiji, so we know we can do it, and we’ve got guys with a huge amount of experience. Ten of the 12 have won titles. We’ve just got to channel that right.”

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 26 August 2016
Golden Lions v Boland 15h00 Johannesburg
Pumas v Griquas 17h10 Kimberley
Sat, 27 August 2016
New Zealand v Australia 07h35 Wellington
EP Kings v Western Province 14h00 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Blue Bulls 16h10 Durban
Argentina v South Africa 19h40 Salta
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 20 August 2016
South Africa v Argentina 30 | 23
Golden Lions v Griquas 24 | 30
Australia v New Zealand 8 | 42
Fri, 19 August 2016
Blue Bulls v EP Kings 49 | 35
Western Province v Free State Cheetahs 25 | 32
Boland v Sharks 20 | 41
Sat, 13 August 2016
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls 43 | 20
Golden Lions v Pumas 68 | 26
Fri, 12 August 2016
Sharks v Griquas 46 | 24
EP Kings v Boland 10 | 28
Sat, 06 August 2016
Boland v Free State Cheetahs 16 | 44
Hurricanes v Lions 20 | 3
Fri, 05 August 2016
Pumas v Sharks 10 | 33
Blue Bulls v Western Province 45 | 26
Sat, 30 July 2016
Lions v Highlanders 42 | 30
SEVENS
MORE LOGS
Pool 00
Team P W D L Pts
Brazil 7s 0 0 0 0 1
Korea Sevens 0 0 0 0 10
Pool 19
Team P W D L Pts
England Sevens 0 0 0 0 19
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Fiji Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Canada Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Australia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
France Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Japan Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
Argentina Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
United States Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Russia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Kenya Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Portugal Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool
Team P W D L Pts
Wales Sevens
Zimbabwe 7s