Christian Lewis-Pratt says England are primed for success at the Manchester leg of the European Sevens Grand Prix this weekend and believes it will be a crucial tournament in the squad’s preparation for the upcoming HSBC World Sevens Series.
Some consistent displays saw Simon Amor’s charges to fourth on the overall Series ladder for 2013/4 – a commendable effort given it was something of a transitional year in terms of coaching staff and playing personnel.
Indeed Lewis-Pratt, who attended Wellington College, believes there is a solid base and a cohesive game-plan on which to build this season.
Set for Pool A fixtures against Romania, Belgium and Russia on Saturday at the AJ Bell Stadium, England are eager to string three eye-catching performances together.
“This competition serves two purposes, really,” playmaker Lewis-Pratt explained. “It’s a chance to win silverware, which is why we all play rugby, and it’s also an opportunity to stake a claim individually.
“We might be trying new people or trying new things before the start of the HSBC Sevens World Series in October. It’s a really important tournament for us.
“Last year was a huge year for us as an entire programme. There was a new coaching staff, new players coming – there was a lot of change and I think you could see that in the way we were playing.
“There were some new philosophies and while it might have taken some time to put everything right we finished the season in a very good place.”
A rather disappointing Commonwealth Games campaign in Glasgow brought an underwhelming fifth-place finish following defeats to Australia and Samoa.
That said, there were exciting victories over Wales and Scotland – two teams who will be represented in Manchester.
Given Amor has selected the likes of James Rodwell, Dan Norton and Marcus Watson; there can be little doubt that England are gunning for success before the Series concludes in Bucharest later this month.
“Sadly, we missed out in the Commonwealths,” Lewis-Pratt added. “We’re a bit bitter about that because we didn’t do ourselves justice.
“In terms of structure and management, we are in good shape and should hit the ground running.
“We’d love to get a win in Manchester to send us on the way to Bucharest.”
Catch them if you can! European Manchester Sevens, September 13 & 14, AJ Bell Stadium. Tickets available now from £10.