Sometimes our first steps might not be in the direction we had envisioned but lucky for us there’s so many different routes to the final destination. Our season started in Colorado with a fifth-place finish after losing the quarter-final to a vastly-improving USA team.
This weekend in Dubai brings an opportunity to redirect our path and improve on the things that let us down in Colorado. In reality we lost one game and other teams like USA and France lost two and finished higher than us on the ladder. That is the nature of this sport and you’ve got to be on for the games on day two.
As a team we hold ourselves to such high standards because we know what we are capable of, so in our eyes fifth was just not good enough. In saying that it was a really good lesson for us to build as a team, form a few new combinations with some of the regular players out with injures and to see where we need to get better. We reviewed our mistakes and weakness from the tournament and worked on them every day back in Australia.
Aside from just wanting to be better, another thing that helps us bounce back is the carrot of claiming the first-ever back-to-back titles for the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Dubai.
To assist in this we have the added energy of two debutants in Lily Dick and Sariah Paki who have come off some red-hot success at the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship earlier this month. They showed ruthlessness, an incredible attitude and a willingness to fight for each other when the games got tough – all attributes which we will be able to feed off this weekend.
The Aussie girls defeated New Zealand 14-10 in the final of the Oceania tournament in Fiji. It is so exciting seeing all of the talent coming through in Australia but also from all of the teams competing, the future of rugby is looking promising.
‘A to the Q’ (Alicia Quirk) is also back from injury, WOO HOO! I personally haven’t played with Quirky since the Kitakyushu tournament in April, so I’m super pumped to be able to pull on the Australian jersey alongside her again.
We’ve got Quirky back but have lost Demi Hayes and Shannon Parry due to ankle injuries which is always tough. But, again, it gives the coaches an opportunity to play some new girls and create some good depth within the squad leading into the qualification for our ultimate goal, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Good luck charm?
In our pool this weekend in Dubai we have England first up, then China and we will be playing USA in our last pool game. So all of the games will certainly be super physical, an area of the game which we have been working very hard on.
We clearly aren’t the biggest team out there, but we know how to play to our strengths and use our physical strength smartly against those teams that are physically bigger than us. I think having USA in our pool this week after going down to them in Glendale will be good for us as we know where we weren’t up to standard and this gives us an opportunity to prove to ourselves that we have fixed those areas enabling us to go into day two confidently.
Dubai is one of my most favourite tournaments to play in, the atmosphere is awesome and the crowd is electric. The Aussie girls have also had some incredible success at this tournament, having made the final since 2013 and winning in alternate years from them on.
I don’t even want to say this but if history were to be a deciding factor we won’t win this year, but it won’t be! Last week I was at the Sydney Opera House and a seagull pooped on my face! Not even my head, my face! So, with that bit of luck behind us – never mind the training we’ve been doing – I think we’re in with a good shot of winning the cup.
In all seriousness, we have a big job this weekend to put ourselves back on the path to Olympic qualification, but I do feel confident that we have all put in the work and are prepared to get back on the path that we have envisioned.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean