Sarah Goss is in the unique position of having played in every HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series event there has been, making this weekend’s HSBC Sydney Sevens her 22nd tournament.
Ten Cup successes and three series crowns – not to mention a RWC Sevens win in 2013 and an Olympic silver medal – later, Goss remains excited by what the future holds for women’s sevens.
“I think that the women’s series over the years has gotten faster, obviously everyone is getting fitter and stronger and the quality of the game just keeps lifting from tournament to tournament which is awesome, and across the board as well,” insisted Goss, named the Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year for 2016.
“Countries are putting a lot of emphasis on making great athletes and better rugby players. I am excited to see where this game is going to grow and with new players and younger players coming in it is only going to get more and more exciting to watch.”
The Black Ferns Sevens began the season with a new coaching team in Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney as head and assistant coach respectively, both bringing in some “great new ideas” and making the players “excited to be there” and focused on the team at all times.
New regime revitalises squad
A change which is already reaping the rewards judging by their success in Dubai – New Zealand’s first Cup title since they won the inaugural event in Langford, Canada, in April 2015 – and Goss can only see a bright future in run up to Tokyo 2020.
“I look back (on Dubai) with great excitement that we can put together a new team, a new coaching staff and perform the way we did and I’m just excited to see these girls continue to grow in Sydney this weekend and into the future of the world series.
“I think we are only going to keep building and getting strong and stronger.
“I think Dubai showed that with this new game plan we are pretty lethal and then throughout the Nationals, growing girls that are young and bringing them into our programme at 17 and 18, by the time we get round to 2020 they are going to be in prime age to perform.
“I am really excited, but also with the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens next year it is a great chance for teams to keep stepping up and for our game of sevens to keep growing around the world.”
The Black Ferns Sevens will begin their campaign with matches against invitational team Papua New Guinea, France and Olympic bronze medallists Canada – three teams that Goss and her team-mates won’t be underestimating.
Hard work awaits to top pool
“It is a pretty tough pool,” admitted Goss. “We haven’t seen a lot of Papua New Guinea. We have played France a lot, they are an amazing team. They have got great passion for the game and they are going to come out firing against us.
“Canada are one of the top three teams in the world at the moment and whenever we play them it is a bloody hard match. It’s going to be an awesome first day and it is going to be hard if we want to win those games.
“As a team we are going to have to put in great performances out there every match.”
New Zealand have only won back-to-back events at the start of a series once, in 2014-15 in the middle of a run of six consecutive tournament titles, but Goss knows that if they play to their potential a second win of the season isn’t beyond her side.
“We are all going to have to play as a team and to keep building on what we set in Dubai. We can’t just sit still and think that it is going to keep happening, which the girls haven’t this week. It’s been awesome, they have continued to grow and learn off the coaches.
“If we can play to our strengths and play with hunger out there this weekend and with great trust of each other, then we are going to be a pretty hard team to beat.”