England are in safe hands under the captaincy of Cuckfield’s Tom Mitchell, according to teammate Charlie Hayter, as they prepare to go for glory at the Exeter Sevens next month.
This week marked a year to go until rugby sevens graces an Olympic stage for the first time in history – and England have already secured a spot for Great Britain in Rio thanks to a top-four finish in the World Series.
Now England are looking to cap their European season off on a high, returning to home turf at Sandy Park on July 11 and 12.
Former Worth School pupil Mitchell has led their charge from the front this season – despite missing the first tournament of 2014/15 through injury – and Hayter admits there is no better man to lead by example.
“He is a fantastic player, a great leader, and a good guy to have around,” he said. “He’s now got a couple of years of sevens experience and leads from the front when he plays.
“It’s so important to know what you want to achieve from a game of sevens, and having that game plan in place.
“Mitch is the guy who leads that game plan for us, and while there are other leaders in the squad as well, he steps up on the pitch.”
If Sandy Park’s unwavering support of Premiership Rugby club Exeter Chiefs is anything to go by, England are in for a huge home advantage in a fortnight’s time.
And Hayter is expecting some of the new faces in the England camp to come to the fore as they bid to make their mark ahead of Rio 2016.
“It’s just about getting the boys plenty of game-time – both those who have been involved in the World Series and the new faces in the squad,” said Hayter.
Mitch is the guy who leads that game plan for us, and while there are other leaders in the squad as well, he steps up on the pitch.Charlie Hayter
“I think all of the newer guys have put a really good shift in at both tournaments. It’s not a easy task coming in for those competitions really not having played much before.
“Cameron Cowell played really well in the last couple of games in Lyon, and he’s definitely one to watch.
“It’s another chance to play in front of a home crowd, and Exeter is a fantastic hub of rugby at the moment so we can’t wait to get out there.
“The atmosphere was unbelievable at Twickenham earlier this season, as it is every year, and the boys have been saying they expect the atmosphere to be as good in Exeter as well.
“We really want to use the home crowd to our advantage as it is massive for us. They really make a big difference and hopefully we can put in a good performance and they’ll see us through.”
The Rugby Europe Seven at Sandy Park, catch them if you can! July 11 & 12. Tickets available from www.exeterchiefs.co.uk
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