Vickerman: A whole new world
Rob Vickerman has admitted to adapting to a "completely different world" after leaving Newcastle Falcons to join the England Sevens squad on a full time basis.
The former Leeds Carnegie centre signed a two-year contract this summer and is one month into preparations for the HSBC Sevens World Series, which kicks off in Australia's Gold Coast on 25-26 November.
Vickerman, 25, was an integral part of Ben Ryan's Sevens forward pack two seasons ago, and is now one of 12 centrally contracted players whose routine is based around weekly three-day camps in London, solitary fitness work at home and a warm-up tournament in Spain before the Series starts.
"I set high standards for myself in terms of fitness – I like to think that’s one of my strongest points – but this is just a completely different world," said Vickerman, who is vying to help England win a first ever World Series title.
"You can be fit and agile and fast in a 15s world and when you come into a Sevens environment you’re bottom of the ladder and it’s a long way up.
"There are some unbelievable athletes in this squad. You just have to look at some of the results we’ve been getting in fitness scores. They are literally world class athletes in their own right – very powerful, very pacy and with that they have rugby brains too, so coming into this environment I have had to get switched on pretty quickly."
A huge decision
England, who finished third in last year’s World Series, are in their second season with full-time players to cope with the athletic demands of a sport booming following its Olympic inclusion from 2016, as well as an expanding list of global tournaments.
After kicking off in Australia, they will go all out to defend their Dubai title (December 2-3) before heading to South Africa's new venue in Port Elizabeth (December 9-10).
The Series will then pause, restarting in 2012 with tournaments in Wellington, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Edinburgh ahead of its conclusion at Twickenham with the Emirates Airline London Sevens.
Vickerman made his England Sevens debut as an 18-year-old in 2004 and became one of the country's outstanding players.
"Coming over was a huge decision to make and a lot more people will have to decide in the future whether they want to go down the Sevens route or to 15s," he added.
"I was lucky enough to get to my 50th Premiership game, which was a big thing. I’ve had my frustrations with injuries but that was a real milestone and I’m very proud about it.
"I’ve got a lot of things I want to achieve in the Sevens world, though, and really wanted to give that a go. For me to come into the full-time environment is the best way to do that. You’re wholly focused on being a sevens player.
"There are only 12 contracts in the country on offer and it’s a prestigious thing so it does drive me on. Many other people, particularly on the Sevens social circuit, would really want to be where we are and we’ll have to work hard to keep it that way."
Video: England win Dubai Sevens 2010