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England Sevens must keep in touch warns Tom Mitchell

Tom MitchellTom Mitchell, the newly-appointed captain of England Sevens, believes they have to lift a trophy in either Las Vegas or Wellington if they don’t want to fall off the frantic pace set by New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji.

Simon Amor’s men are ranked fourth in the World Series standings after three tournaments but are already 18 points behind reigning champions New Zealand.

The Kiwis, who finished no lower than third in all of the nine legs last season, winning two of them, have built their success around a consistency which Mitchell hopes England can copy.

“We want to win the World Series, but getting a good result in Las Vegas or in Wellington is quite important going forward. We’re ranked fourth at the moment so we have to reach the Cup finals to stay in touch with the top three,” he told The Rugby Paper.

“New Zealand won the World Series last year because they made the Cup semi-finals of every tournament. They perform consistently and that’s what we need to emulate.

“We’ve come a long way since Simon arrived in September and we had to adapt to a new vision. Now winning trophies will help us move forward as a group.”

Their quest starts tomorrow when they face Samoa before two easier games against Uruguay and Portugal.

The Pacific Islanders’ physical game was too much to handle for England in Port Elizabeth last month but Mitchell is adamant it won’t be the same story in Las Vegas.

“It’s great to have another shot at Samoa so soon,” he said. “We didn’t play well against them in Port Elizabeth and we took a bit of a battering.

“That is what is great about the World Series. You get to play teams often so you can judge how far you’ve come.

“Our defence has improved a lot since then and I’m sure we can stop them. Once we do our pace and power out wide can help us score from anywhere.”

Mitchell, a 2011 Varsity winner with Oxford, has been instrumental in England’s performances this season so it came as no surprise to see Amor name his playmaker as  captain following forward Tom Powell’s stint.

The 24-year-old captained England Students while at Bristol University in 2011 and led Great Britain to the World University Championship in France in 2012.

He added: “Being named captain is a huge honour. Not coming through the England age groups, I’ve been really fortunate to get involved and get to where I am now.

“It’s a big task but I feel confident. I’ve been in the squad for two years and, although I’m not a shouter, I’ve learnt to voice my opinions more.”

NICK VERDIER

Read Tom Mitchell’s latest exclusive column from Las Vegas here.

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