Will we see the next Dan Norton at the Hong Kong Sevens? England young gun Callum Sirker thinks so
The Red Rose side is packed with exciting youngsters as the top team prepares for the Commonwealth Games
England stars Dan Norton and Dan Bibby might be absent from the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens but not all is lost, with England young gun Callum Sirker assuring fans they will still get a glimpse of their brilliance.
Like so many of their competitors, England have landed in Hong Kong with a team of youngsters as winning gold at the Commonwealth Games takes precedence.
Sirker, who debuted in Hong Kong last year and is preparing for his fifth World Series leg, can’t wait to see what he and his young teammates can do on the “biggest stage”.
“There’s loads of boys with potential. I think the thing you will see when you watch the team is that a lot of the boys are stepping in and mirroring different players,” said the 19-year-old.
“You’ve got people like George Chatterton, he’s a forward and you kind of look at him and think ‘he looks a bit like James Rodwell when he plays’.
“Everyone has a trait of the senior players, whether it’s a bit of Dan Bibby in them or Dan Norton. It will be interesting to watch, that is for sure.”
The England team were in good spirits at a mini-rugby clinic at Hysan Place on Sunday and Sirker says they’re loving being on the road together.
“Together as a group of 13 we are great friends,” he said. “We’re doing much of the same stuff we do back in England, go out for food, have the chats that we do, play cards and drink coffee – just the normal stuff that friends do.”
Sirker is one of six capped players in the squad and is making a long-awaited return to the side after suffering an injury at the Oktoberfest 7s in Munich last September.
England will be coached by academy boss Warren Abrahams and senior assistant Tony Roques while head coach Simon Amor oversees the Games preparation of the first team. Will Edwards is the captain at just 21 and Sirker says there is a buzz around the group.
“It’s a massive opportunity for us to go out and express ourselves on the biggest stage,” he said. “We need to go out there and enjoy ourselves.
“We’ve been training with this lot and the rest of the squad all year so we know how each other plays and we’re prepared for the weekend.
“I’m expecting the same sort of intensity that a lot of us have experienced on the World Series, you are playing for your country.”
After finishing second behind South Africa last season, England have dropped away this year and sit seventh in the series.
They are likely to slip further behind fifth-placed Argentina and the sixth-placed USA, who will have full-strength squads, and Sirker says things haven’t quite aligned for the team this season.
“We’ve tried to focus on every World Series tournament as it’s come, obviously the Commonwealth Games has been a massive focus for us, but it hasn’t quite clicked,” he said.
England will have their work cut out progressing from a pool C that features a Scotland team that has retained the majority of its players from the last leg in Vancouver and a second-string South Africa squad that still boasts plenty of talent.