New England Sevens coach Simon Amor praised his players for adapting to a different style of play as they recorded a third-place finish in the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Australia’s Gold Coast.
England finished strongly with a record 47-0 play-off win against South Africa after having earlier beaten Fiji 26-12 before being edged out in the semi-final 14-5 by eventual winners New Zealand, who thrashed the hosts 40-19 in the final.
The next two legs of the series are in Dubai on November 29-30 and December 7-8 and Amor, who has taken over the role from Ben Ryan — now in charge of Fiji — said: “We had a big challenge against a very talented Fijian side and our defensive focus came across in a good performance.
“Against New Zealand we got the breakdown a bit wrong but in terms of defence and tackling we were much better.
“I was very pleased with what we did against what was in fairness a tired South Africa.
“We were ruthless in our play and our mindset throughout was very good.”
Amor is attempting to change both the attack and defensive strategy and admits it is a race against time.
He added: “It’s important to recognise that we’ve only just started working on a new style of play for two weeks.
“We’ve focused on defence and haven’t really looked at our attacking game yet. You’re always going to make mistakes early on and we didn’t make progress on the first day but we improved after that. We’ve still got lots to work on. We have got a break now until Dubai and we’ll look at getting some game time for players between now and then to make sure we’re battle hardened and we’ll keep on practising in defence and attack.
“Phil Burgess played really well against South Africa. Potentially he’s a class sevens hooker and he showed a lot of his qualities. The challenge for him is to keep on making strides forward now.
“Mike Ellery’s big and athletic and one of the quickest guys in the squad so his potential to become a world-class sevens player is clear.
“He didn’t get much game time last season so it was good to give him the chance.
“For him it’s about game understanding and recognising where his strengths are.
“Playing on the second day there was a real step up and it’s important to see we’re moving forward. We took a step back on day one so to improve and finish third was a good reward for all the effort the boys put in.”
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