Norton: I can't wait
Former Bristol winger targets top spot
By Tony Curtis - follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 14/11/11 8:14pm
Free-scoring England back Dan Norton is "itching" for the new HSBC Sevens World Series to kick-off.
Former Bristol winger Norton is one of 12 players that will jet off for the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens in Australia this week.
Having seen a promising campaign finish on a disappointing note as their title challenge came unstuck over the course of the final two legs, England have gone away and regrouped.
A total of 12 players have been tied to central contracts, while Ben Ryan's side enjoyed a promising foray in to the European Series in the summer.
And Norton, who scored 32 tries in last season's World Series, can't wait for the new season to finally get underway on November 25.
"We have been going in pre-season for 12 weeks now so everyone is itching to get going," Norton told skysports.com.
"We have been going in pre-season for 12 weeks now so everyone is itching to get going."
Dan Norton Quotes of the week
"The time we get together has been really focused on quality and on rugby. We then go away and sharpen up on the weights and fitness.
"The training schedule has been good but we really can't wait for action now."
England will head into the World Series without talisman Ben Gollings, with the 31-year, the all-time record points-scorer with 2,652 in 70 tournaments, having failed to win a new contract.
However having had to rely on Gollings, who has subsequently joined the set-up at Rugby Lions, for so long, Norton claims England had adapted quickly for a new era.
"Ben Gollings was brilliant. He was massive for the team, not just in terms of the points he scored but in his demeanour as a leader," said Norton.
"But he has been out of the squad for a while now and we have had a full pre-season without him.
"In some respects, perhaps it has been good for the team as whole that he has gone. We have developed different game plans as well as playmakers within the squad.
"It has helped that players have had the chance to step in. Christian Lewis-Pratt, before he did his ankle, and Marcus Watson have looked good stepping in to the 10 role and it's going to be interesting to see how players step up to the mark."
Having finished as the third highest try-scorer in the series last season, Norton is one of the players set to rise to the challenge.
"I don't care if I score one try or I score 20, the important thing for me is for us to win the title."
Dan Norton Quotes of the week
However Norton claims he would happily swap all his tries to see England become the world's No.1 team.
"Last season was massive for me personally with the amount of tries I scored," he added.
"With the extra leg this time I am hoping I can do the same again or even score more. Hopefully it will help us to the World Series title but I don't care if I score one or I score 20, the important thing for me is for us to win the title."
Norton, though, has a serious challenge to his try-scoring crown - with Nick Royle having scored 45 tries in the European Series to earn a full-time contract.
And Norton believes the competition for places with the former Fylde flyer can only be good for the England side.
"Nick did phenomenally well in the summer," admitted Norton.
"He didn't get a lot of game time last year but he has really taken his chance. He came in and looked good towards the end of last season and has been scoring a lot of tries since.
"It is good for England and no matter which of us starts, we will be out there doing our best for the team."