Mitchell wants England to lay down marker

Tom Mitchell, centre, and his England team-mates

Tom Mitchell, centre, and his England team-mates

First published in Sport by

Tom Mitchell admits it will be a huge honour to captain England’s rugby sevens team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

But the 24-year-old from East Grinstead insists he wants to achieve something special for the team, rather than himself, during the next couple of weeks.

Former Worth School pupil Mitchell is delighted with the strength of the squad he will lead in this format of the game and he wants to lay down a marker about their progress when the action gets under way at Ibrox Stadium.

Mitchell has previously captained England Students and Great Britain students in the 15-a-side version of the game.

But his career has gone from strength to strength after deciding to concentrate on sevens.

He finished as the highest points scorer in the 2013-14 IRB World Sevens Series with a massive 358, 98 points more than Fiji’s Samisoni Virviri.

The Cuckfield-born fly half or centre was an IRB Sevens Player of the Year nominee and was named England captain in January.

Now he is relishing the opportunity to play in his first Commonwealth Games.

Mitchell told The Argus: “I feel very fortunate with the way it has gone over the last couple of years.

“Coming through the student game and then the sevens set-up, I have tried to work hard, I have had a lot of good support and a lot of good development help along the way from other people.

“I’m trying to enjoy the moment and push on. I want to keep achieving both personally and as a team.

“As a squad we still feel like we have a long way to go. The Commonwealth Games is a good opportunity for us to lay a marker down and it would be good to get some success.

“It is a massive honour whenever you captain your country. I have been fortunate to do it for England during the series this year and I have really enjoyed it.

“I guess it takes a step up a bit in an event like the Commonwealth Games. It is a huge event, one you are incredibly proud to be part of. I will be really honoured to lead the guys in Glasgow in a multi-sport event like this as part of Team England.”

England were silver medallists in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne but finished fourth in Delhi four years ago.

They have been placed in pool D alongside Sri Lanka, Uganda and Australia, with the sevens action taking place next weekend.

England finished fourth in the World Series and see New Zealand and South Africa as the ones to beat in Glasgow.

He said: “South Africa and New Zealand both finished ahead of us so it would make sense that they will be looking to do well.

“Everyone dreams of winning gold at the Commonwealth Games. We have got good belief within our squad that we can do very well. We have beaten every team in the world that we have come up against at some point this season.

“We have got good faith in how hard we have worked in the last couple of months. We have put some things right from the World Series that we needed to work on and we have a very strong squad going into it so we are looking to do well.”

Mitchell also intends to savour the Commonwealth Games experience.

He added: “It is a completely new thing for us and to be rubbing shoulders with the other athletes in Team England will be really special.

“It is really important as players that we take it all in. It is potentially the one opportunity we will get to experience something like this and it is an incredibly special thing to be a part of.

“We will have a chance to meet some of the other athletes and learn from them, learn how they deal with their different types of competition, the pressure and all the things that come with it.”

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