After six months out with a knee injury, Australian Women's Sevens captain Sharni Williams isn't the same player she was last year.
In fact, she's quite possibly better.
Williams will play her first tournament in six months in next weekend’s Clermont-Ferrand Sevens, when the Aussie women will try and win their first World Series title.
The 28-year-old has played just one tournament this season, undergoing knee surgery after Dubai, in a bid to ensure she was fully fit for the Olympics.
Returning from the first serious injury of her career, Williams said it had been a mental challenge to come back as much as anything.
“Injuries are tough and I’ve been lucky, playing for seven years and not having a severe injury or having to go under surgery, so I learned a lot of things,” she said.
“The mental side of it’s obviously very hard.
“(You need to) set little goals and tick those off and keep progressing and not let your mind tick over on the bad things.”
The injury has forced her to change her running style in a bid to prevent a recurrence, a n adaptation that has come quickly since she returned to full training in recent weeks.
“I’ve been back for three weeks and been getting used to the intensity the pace the yelling, hearing the calls and that sort of stuff,” he said.
“You can watch as much footage as you can possible.
“Being out there and doing it by hand is something you take on board and learn from a lot more .
“I’m definitely a visual learner and doer, got to go out and do it, so I’m getting back into the swing of things I’ve got to do.
“Going to make some mistakes but I don’t want to be scared to fail because I can’t move forward after that.”
Coach Tim Walsh said the return of Williams would be a massive boost as the side vies for its first title.
“Sharni’s a tremendous leader on the field,” he said.
“She’s an absolute workhorse and she'd just do anything for the team.
Williams will share the captaincy with her replacement Shannon Parry, a move Walsh said would help Williams focus on her own performances as she regains match fitness.
“It’s a really good balance to have those two as co-captains particularly as Sharni’s finding her form and getting back into it.