I’ve spent a lot of my life involved in rugby sevens but I haven’t taken on many challenges as big as the one I have just embarked on with China.
I am heading up the coaching team for China’s sevens programme, and will be heading out there shortly for the next few months.
I am so excited to see what we can do in that time.
England legends Dan Norton and Tom Biggs are supporting me as my assistant coaches as we look to maximise the potential of the playing pool already there as well as unearthing new talent to, ultimately, get us to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
To do that we will need to put on a strong showing in the Asian Series in October and November later this year, alongside the delayed Asian Games next year.
Ideally, we would want to progress onto World Rugby’s second-tier Sevens Challenger Series and then the World Series, perhaps playing at events like the London and Hong Kong Sevens.
China will be tough
I am under no illusions as to how hard this China job will be.
I do not speak Mandarin, I’ve never spent a prolonged time in the country, and it is hard to know at this stage just what the talent pool potential could be – both known and unearthed.
But I am optimistic. You only have to look at the progress of other Asian nations: Hong Kong in the XVs World Cup repechage, South Korea improving too, and Japan going from strength to strength at the top level.
The continent clearly has the potential. We just need to awaken a sleeping giant of 1.4bn people.
The Chinese players are over here in England at the moment getting experience on the brilliant English sevens circuit.
We’ve been making the most of the Commonwealth Games nations being here in this country. We beat Jamaica and Wales, which was great, and ran Canada close. That said, we did get a pummelling by Fiji, but who doesn’t these days?
It gives me hope that we could be on to something here and, while some travel disruption has delayed the start of my move out to China, I am confident that we can make a good case for ourselves in the future.