Team GB Exclusive: Sevens star Norton excited on road to Rio
Exclusive

Team GB Exclusive: Sevens star Norton excited on road to Rio

07 July 2015 / 20:07

Dan Norton believes no-one is safe for a place on Great Britain's rugby sevens squad at next summer's Olympics.

Norton played a key role in the England team that qualified Team GB for Rio, with their fourth place in this season's World Series, including a victory in the Japan leg on the nine stage competition.

Next week England's rising stars will play in Rugby Europe’s Grand Prix 7s series event in Exeter, which will give coach Simon Amor the chance to run the rule over those pushing themselves into his thoughts.

"Since sevens was included in the Olympics there has been a lot more excitement and awareness around the sport in this country and all over the world," said Norton.

"A lot more countries are taking it seriously. There are more full-time teams, and money is being spent in sevens programmes, so the level of the sport all over the world has definitely increased. The smaller sides are getting better and the more established teams are even more competitive.

"The guys in the team next week will learn a lot about the England set-up and the culture of the sevens team. And they can get used to the structure of playing a sevens tournament over an entire weekend, and the rigours of playing one game, then stopping for a couple of hours before the next one.

"That’s one of the hardest things. Physically these guys will all be in great shape but they have to develop the discipline and the skills to be part of the squad.

"It’s good for the whole programme to see the younger guys playing with the older guys and visa-versa. We can learn from them and they can learn from us."

With qualification secure, attention is quickly turning to next summer, when the sport makes its long awaited Olympic debut, seven years after receiving the thumbs up from the International Olympic Committee at their annual congress in Copenhagen.

Winger Norton once clocked a time of 2.70 secs for 20 metres from a standing start, which is 0.19 secs faster than Bolt achieved on his world record-breaking 100m sprint at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

And such blistering pace means he has scored nearly 200 international tries and recently captained England against Kenya at Twickenham in honour of his 50th international tournament.

But personal goals aside, he is excited about the talent around him on the Road to Rio.

"I think this year a few players have really stood out," he added. 

"Charlie Hayter has had his first year with us and had a fantastic introduction to the team before really kicking on in the second half of the season.

"That’s the same story with Alex Gray. He has been in the set-up for a year or two now but has really stepped up and is playing consistently. which is great for all the team around him.

"The new guys coming in have done well and it gives the squad a refreshed look. Having such a young, quick team is a benefit and very exciting for us all."

* The Rugby Europe Sevens at Sandy Park, catch them if you can! July 11 & 12. Tickets available from www.exeterchiefs.co.uk 

By James Toney, Sportsbeat

© Sportsbeat 2015