England will look at own game rather than focus on Fiji

Despite their coach swapping jobs recently, the team say the island nation are a threat, nonetheless.

Tom Powell, centre, and his England teammates will focus on raising their game today. Bobby Yip / Reuters
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DUBAI // England will find an eerily familiar face blocking their path this evening, as they bid to return to the Dubai winners’ podium for the third time in four years this weekend.

Ben Ryan was at the helm when England won the title in 2010 and 2011 but resigned from the post in the summer and was subsequently hired by Fiji.

The coach privately wishes he never had to face his former charges at all this season, so strong are his ties with his former players.

However, whenever the two great rivals are pitted together, his new side will certainly be well briefed on the inner-workings of the opposition. England against Fiji is the showpiece fixture of Day 1 of the IRB competition and will be the final pool fixture kicking off this evening.

Tom Powell, the England captain, says his side should not worry about second guessing Ryan’s game-plan, given the Fijians always represent enough of a threat anyway.

“We will focus on our own game,” said Powell, who has taken over the England captaincy from Rob Vickerman.

“Obviously Ben has a very recent history with us but the Fijians have a rich history in sevens anyway.

“They are a great team who will always be a great challenge no matter when you face them.

“All we can do is look after ourselves and make sure we are on the money.

“If we can do the right things and put into practice what we have been doing in training then we can come out with the right result in the end.”

Like Ryan, England’s coach Simon Amor has experience of winning the Emirates International Trophy twice in successive years. The recently-appointed coach was the captain when England won at the old Dubai Exiles ground in Al Awir in 2004 and 2005.

On both occasions, Fiji were the defeated side in the final, and the islanders are still no closer to winning the title in this city.

Amor’s squad still has his predecessor’s fingerprints all over it, but the new man says the playing style has been tweaked.

“With the players you have with you, there is no point playing a style of rugby if you can’t make that particular style work to their strengths,” Amor said.

“My job is to work that out with this team we have here – and there is an amazing amount of talent in this team, there really are some top quality players.

“There is nothing too dramatic. Sevens as a game is about doing the basics exceptionally well, and the onus is on the players to make the right decisions on the field. That is the nature of it – the picture always changes.”


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