Q&A with Australian Women's Sevens skipper Sharni

by Staff Writer

With automatic qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympics just seven points away for our Qantas Australian Women's Sevens team, Sharni Williams is confident her side can get the job done this weekend at the NRCA Stadium in Amsterdam.

Q. How are preparations going for this weekend, Sharni?

A. They've been going really well. Obviously coming off the back of a win has been pretty nice. Also, it's been good to have a bit of downtime before we get out on the pitch for Amsterdam. A few bodies were a bit sore after that Cup Final but we have great staff here and the girls have been really professional to help with their own recovery.

Q. Across the Men's and Women's tournaments over the years, it's traditionally been extremely difficult to win back-to-back tournament. Do you think you're a chance of creating your own piece of history this weekend?

A. Yes, I hope so. It hasn't been done on the Women's circuit, but that's something we're aiming to change. It's going to be tough, but the girls are up for it. As you say, the Men's tournaments have always been tough to win two tournaments in two weeks. Though we've only had back-to-back tournaments once before when New Zealand won in Atlanta in February last year and then we won in Sao Paulo the following week.

Q. Looking back to last week one more time, how much of an effort did it take to play as a forward and stay on the pitch for the full 20 minutes of that Final?

A. It's been a big season. In pre-season, you train and train and train and you don't play for a long time so getting out on the paddock and being able to play is so exciting. And then to be able to play in a Final, yes, you're tired but that adrenaline kicks in, it's the pride you have playing with the girls next to you, playing for your country and the pride in wearing your national jersey.

I feel we're a lot more connected now. We're out there playing for each other and we want to finish this season on high and Olympic qualification is in our reach.

Q. Sevens points this weekend or a Cup Quarter-Final spot will ensure automatic qualification, does that play on your mind?

A. It's the same as we have gone into every tournament. It's about taking it game by game, pool by pool and going through our processes. New Zealand didn't drop off their game last weekend at all [after securing automatic qualification] as you would expect from any team that is going out there to play for their country.

Q. Was it a case of one step back - with those tournaments in the USA and Canada - and two forwards in London? There must be some highs and lows with such a young team?

A. I think it was part of the growth of the girls. You have to take the good experiences with the bad experiences. As long as you are learning then it's always a great outcome. If you don't learn, then it's back to the drawing board. We came away from Canada with a loss, but went to London and won - now it's a matter of holding on to that type of performance.

Q. Obviously the aim for this weekend is to repeat the intensity from London I guess?

A. The situation in Amsterdam is going to be slightly different with a synthetic pitch, it will be faster and the bounce of the ball will be different. It's about how we can adapt.

Q. Being the most recent champions, what will it be like being the hunted rather than the hunted?

A. Obviously there is a bit of chat going around and people try to put a bit of pressure on you but we have a team that can handle pressure. People can talk and carry on but it's up to us how we perform.

Q. Lastly, there seems to be a really good spirit in the camp at the moment?

A. It's amazing. Coming off the back of a win it was always going to be good. It's towards the end of the season, we've worked really hard to get where we are and we want to show Australia what we can do.

Fans can watch both days play LIVE via www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series/. FOX SPORTS will once again broadcast Finals Day from 11.20pm AEST on Saturday 23 May through to 2.10am AEST on Sunday 24 May.

Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens fixtures in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 22-23 May:

Australia v Russia, Pool B, 8.20pm, 22 May

Australia v China, Pool B, 11.04pm, 22 May

Australia v England, Pool B, 1.48am, 23 May

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