It was a fantastic opportunity for us to take 24 players spread in two teams there. We got to see how players react off each other which is critical given the amount of time we have before Rio.
Pleased with third and fifth?
It was great to show the Team GB spirit so early after only three days together. They really fought for each other. The whole goal of the first week was to create that atmosphere and we achieved that so I’m delighted.
Any combinations that stood out?
There were glimpses across the board. The questions now is whether we’ll be able in the space of two month to turn these glimpses in consistent performances. It’s very exciting.
What did you expect from the players?
We wanted the players to make decisions on the pitch whether it was a good one or not, especially for the 15s boys who would not have learnt anything if they feared making mistakes.
It was your message to Joe Simpson after the first game, wasn’t it?
He started the tournament by only passing the ball and shadowing in defence but by the end he was being a lot more aggressive and he brought his attacking flair.
Is that the biggest challenge for the 15s players?
They haven’t got much time so they can’t be cautious. They have to be brave and go for it. They’ve all got brilliant skills so they have to bring it out and be prepared to make mistakes.
What about the defensive aspect of Sevens?
They over chase a lot but it takes a lot of time to get comfortable enough to trust the outside defender more. That’ll come.
Any mental issues?
Playing back to back games is very hard mentally. It’s rugby, whether it’s Sevens or 15s but the biggest thing is how tired they’ll get mentally over the three days in Rio.
Are they regretting joining?
No! They all came in knowing the challenge. People give a lot more respect to Sevens players now and they know how hard it is physically. I couldn’t have asked any more of them.
Mark Bennett stood out in Moscow with eight tries?
He’s a wonderful attacking threat and he worked really well with Dan Bibby.
Talking about Dan, happy to see him back?
He’s a big asset to the squad. He was in great form before his shoulder injury and England missed him a lot. He brings a lot of intensity and creativity.
What about the level of the opposition which wasn’t quite what you’ll face in Rio?
It was the right of level for us at this time. It challenged us without being too easy or too hard. But our greatest competition will always come from training against each other with players desperate to make the squad.
Big three weeks coming up?
We’re looking to fine tune things over this next block before putting it to the test at Sevens and The City and in Exeter for the second leg of the European Series.
Are Fiji favourites in Rio?
Without a doubt after the way they won back-to-back World Series. But the fascinating thing about Sevens was how we saw other teams like Kenya or Samoa win a tournament. It shows the level across the board in Sevens.
What are Team GB’s chances?
Every team has a chance! We haven’t had the whole season to try our combinations but we have a lot of talent and can be very successful.
Any team bonding plans?
We’ve done things already but we’ll keep them to ourselves. We had football coach Stuart Pearce in last week and we’ll have some Olympians coming in too.
Did you ever dream about the Olympics as a player?
Not really as it wasn’t part of it when I was around. It’s been a challenging year for England Sevens but now it’s all over I’m very excited about Rio.
Pleased to see superstars from 15s involved?
Massively! No one really knew how the likes of Bryan Habana, Sonny Bill Williams or Quade Cooper were going to fare and some have found it challenging. But it goes back to recognising the sort of athletes Sevens players are and what’s required to play at the top level.
If you could have any players in your team?
Honestly, all I have done for the past 12 months is focus on players who could be available for Team GB.
What about other Olympians?
Sevens is a unique game so it’s hard to say but it’d be interesting to see Dan Norton take on Usain Bolt. You’d back Bolt over one effort but after ten it could be different!
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