England aim to scale Series ladder in NZ
Many would argue England head into this weekend's Hertz Sevens with pressure mounting due to their current position of 13th in the overall standings of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Following a disappointing opening three rounds, in which they have failed to make a Cup quarter final, Ben Ryan's men find themselves in unfamiliar territory entering the fourth round in Wellington.
This year's Series culminates in the new promotion/relegation tournament at the ninth round in London, involving the bottom three-ranked core teams after round eight in Glasgow. If that tournament was played today, England would find themselves needing to reconfirm their core team status, but in spite of that Ryan admits the new process has added a new dimension to the Series.
"I am smiling nervously," admitted the England head coach. "But we are not thinking of that [the promotion/relegation] and it is not where we will be come the end of the season. Yes we are currently 13th in the world, but we will push ourselves up the table during the remainder of the season.
"What the new process does is put more pressure on you if that is how you deem it to be. Added to that, the new teams have come in and all done well, which means the traditional sides who may have had it easy are pushed into a position they don't want to be.
"It is great for the game to have the promotion and relegation as there are a lot of teams that would like to do what we do and now there is a transparent way to always have the best sides in the world on the Series, which is great heading forward towards the Olympics."
This weekend, England have an immediate opportunity to ease some of the pressure on themselves when they take the field in the Hertz Sevens on 1-2 February at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
They are joined in Pool A by Spain, USA and the defending Wellington and Series champions New Zealand, whom they have faced in three finals here over the years, winning just one in 2009. But that win was also Ryan's first as England Sevens coach, and serves as a constant source of inspiration.
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England have battled with injuries to key players all season, but they will welcome back Mat Turner with open arms, as well as Christian Lewis-Pratt, and hope they can turn things around.
"We thoroughly enjoy the New Zealand Sevens," said Ryan.
"Once we get over the jet lag it is outstanding. I have some fond memories here but our goal is very simple for this weekend and that is to improve on where we are.
"I love the game, but it does come with its highs and lows. Whether you like it or not, one good or bad thing from you or an opponent, or one injury or a sin bin can change the whole slant of your two days, and even the previous six to nine months preparation.
"Wins and losses do happen, but sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. You have to embrace where you are and I am very lucky running such a good team in a proud rugby nation. Sevens is an incredible sport and I hope to be involved for a long time to come."
1-2 February 2013
Venue: Westpac Stadium