Sevens campaign starts here
November 23, 2011
Chris Cracknell and the rest of the England Sevens side prepare for the start of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Australia © RFU
We're on the Gold Coast waiting to kick of the HSBC Sevens World Series and it's like the calm before the storm here. You get to the hotel and get the death stares across the room and the awkward silences with players from other countries. We know what we've done but now it's going into the unknown, you want to know who's in and who's out in the other teams and they'll be sizing us up too.
We start with games against Scotland, Tonga and Wales on Friday and go into the first tournament with a 12 week pre -season behind us, a good trip to Elche in Spain, and we've got a lot of experience, a lot of game time and a lot of guys who've played a lot of rugby together. I can't say too much about my roommate Rob Vickerman but it's great to have guys like him and Chris Brightwell in the squad. They've been away in the Aviva Premiership with Newcastle and Sale and it's made them better rugby players. They're offering a different experience and we can all learn and thrive off that.
We get on well even though we spend so much time together. There's a few little groups -a coffee clique of me, Matt Turner, Tom Powell (who claimed he'd found the best flat-white in Sydney only for it to taste like dishwater) and Greg Barden. Then there's Nick Royle, Dan Norton, Marcus Watson and they've got their little blend. You have to have little sub cultures but everyone sings from the same hymn-sheet when we're together.
Travel is something you get used to on the sevens circuit. It's a bit of a shock - this is the first one of the year and it's 25 hours on a plane - but you get used to it and get on with it. When you get to the new places you just have to get into your routine as quickly as possible It helps when you can acclimatise for a few days in somewhere like Manly, which was beautiful. Me, Greg and Brett Davison our physio would be in the water at 6.00am every morning, swim a couple of lengths of the beach, run up and down on the sand, and there's no better way to start the day. Manly was a fantastic place for us to bed into the time zone and get used to the weather.
We flew up from Sydney at the start of this week and now it's about the fine print. We've done all the hard work and the fitness. This is now about tweaking little bits here and there to make sure it's all finished off and we're certain of what we'll do in every situation going into game one on Friday.
The opposition? We've got three physical pool games in my mind. Wales are now full-time, Scotland are thereabouts, and Tonga are an unknown quantity. I know their coach Josh Taumalolo and he wouldn't let them go on the field if they didn't think they could claim a massive scalp
So how do we approach the new season? Every team's going to try and push the envelope and move themselves on. Everyone will say 'we've got an edge, we've got this guy and you'll never catch him…' For me it all falls back on playing as a team and playing together. Our ethos is that we're all here to win together and support each other on and off the field. That's our bottom line.
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