England’s bid to do better in the HSBC World Sevens series will depend on their ability to be more consistent.
Heading into Hamilton’s leg of the Sevens starting on January 26, England are in fourth place, eight points behind the United States, seven behind New Zealand and five behind Fiji.
Former England captain Ollie Phillips and World Rugby Sevens player of the year in 2009 said England looked well placed in the season opening tournament in Dubai but fell to New Zealand, who looked to be a side on the way up.
“New Zealand look a strong side this year, they’ll always be up there with Fiji and South Africa,” Phillips told The Rugby Paper.
“But in Dubai England played well before losing to New Zealand in the semis 7-5.
“Those are the sort of games that England narrowly lose and now the expectation from their side should be that they should be narrowly winning,” he said.
While key players like Tom Mitchell, Phil Burgess and Dan Norton are vital in England’s bid to win the Sevens Series for the first time, they face dealing with a United States side attempting to do the same.
💥 The first tournament of 2019 is almost here! Will you be in Hamilton to watch the #AllBlacks7s play on home soil? Re-live some of the top moments from 2018 in the Tron!
— All Blacks Sevens (@AllBlacks7s) January 6, 2019
“They are a side with a lot of similarities to England. They’ve got a lot of experience in their squad, a talented squad capable of winning tournaments.
“Just like England they have to build that consistency. They have two of the fastest men in the game in Perry Baker and Carlin Isles. Danny Barrett is arguably the best ball-carrier in the game and Madison Hughes is a fantastic playmaker in the middle. They have all the attributes to be great. It is all to do with mindset,” Phillips said.
The ability to get over the United States will be all the more important in Hamilton as England is drawn in the same pool, Pool B, for the tournament. Samoa and Tonga are the other sides in the pool.
Hosts New Zealand are drawn with Spain, Canada and Japan in Pool D.
In Pool A are Fiji, Australia, Argentina and Wales while in Pool C are South Africa, Scotland, France and Kenya.
New Zealand’s first game is against Japan at 12.36pm on Saturday, January 26.
Top tries in the Tron in 2018 – 6⃣
Have you seen a faster try than this? What a brilliant piece of skill 👏🏉 pic.twitter.com/PsGttwhZJv
— HSBC NZ Sevens (@NZ_Sevens) December 26, 2018