England to build on promising start

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:47
Tom-powell-eng-v-sa Tom-powell-england
The biggest change has been our defence

Tom Powell believes England's third-place finish on the Gold Coast last month has given them a sturdy base to build on at the next leg of the IRB Sevens World Series in Dubai this weekend.

Powell, from Sheffield, will skipper the side once more, and the 28 year-old is humbled by the prospect of leading his country again.

England kick-off their bid for a third Dubai title in four years with pool matches on Friday against Canada, the United States and Fiji.

Having been captained by Chris Robshaw in his formative years at Millfield School, he is also aware of the need to work in harness with recently-appointed head coach Simon Amor.

"It's probably the biggest thing I've achieved in my career," said Powell, who made his debut on the IRB circuit in February 2010.

"Representing your country at any level in any sport is an amazing achievement, then to be asked to captain your country is the ultimate honour in my opinion.

"I'll do my talking on the pitch and hopefully the boys will follow my lead. We all understand our roles and what we bring to the team - that is what Simon has really emphasised.

"He's tried to make us aware of what he wants from every individual. In terms of influencing the other players, all I can do is my individual job. If the rest of the boys do that, we'll be in a good position. We've got a heck of a team."

Though last season's sixth-placed finish was hugely underwhelming for Powell and his teammates, a record 47-0 thrashing of South Africa ended the opening leg of this campaign on a very promising note.

England face Canada, the United States and Fiji in Friday's pool stage and although Dubai victories in 2010 and 2011 will add confidence in the squad, Powell highlighted the importance of learning from the defensive approaches that Amor has instilled since coming in.

"On the field, the biggest change has been our defence," he explained.

"This year we've re-assessed and we've looked at having different options against different teams at different stages in the game. We've worked a lot more on tackling technique with contact in training as well.

"In Dubai the firm pitch normally suits our pace and guys with quick feet and vision. It's also an amazing place to play for an English person because of the amount of ex-pats over there.

"The atmosphere is fantastic - it's early in the year, everyone is hungry and fresh. Hopefully we can build on Australia out there."

England: Dan Bibby, Phil Burgess, Sam Edgerley, Mike Ellery, Alex Gray, Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Tom Powell (captain), James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams.