Australia captain Sharni Williams hopes that cutting out the "one per cent errors" will see them secure a first title of the Women's Sevens Series, but she will be taking nothing for granted in Atlanta.
Four times in a row Australia captain Sharni Williams has had to stand and watch her New Zealand counterparts lift another World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series trophy after beating their trans-Tasman rivals in the title decider.
Defeats in Guangzhou and Amsterdam last year have been followed by losses in Dubai and Sao Paulo this season, the most recent losses coming as a result of New Zealand tries in the dying minutes or – as was the case in Dubai – with the final play of the game.
“I guess it comes down to composure,” explained Williams, who was named in the Dream Team for the Sao Paulo round. “We’ve obviously been to two finals but it’s down to that last minute and keeping our composure and taking the opportunities that we create and making the most of them.
“It could be missing a tackle or dropping a ball – those one per cent errors that New Zealand are crisp at that we need to work on.”
While Australia suffered more heartbreak in Sao Paulo, surrendering the title they had won in 2014, Williams was still able to draw on the positives of what had been achieved thousands of miles away back at home.
“Rugby sevens is booming thanks to the Olympics. FOX SPORTS broadcast our Cup final from Sao Paulo for the first time as a standalone event – something like that you would never have heard of for women’s rugby and it’s massive for Australia.”
Australia will face France, Fiji and Spain in Pool B at the Atlanta Sevens and Williams is certainly not underestimating the threat that any of this trio pose to her side’s target of winning their first title of the season.
“For Fiji to get in the World Series this season has been massive,” insisted Williams, whose side lie second in the standings, four points behind series and world champions New Zealand, in the race to secure a top four spot and qualification for Rio 2016.
“I believe they will have a huge impact on the series – they bring a competitive edge, and once they get more experience you have to wonder whether there will be any stopping them. They’re a bit like their men’s team, plenty of offloads, a different game plan to other teams.
“You have Spain. The World Cup still brings back bad memories for me when they beat us to end our chances of reaching the Cup semis. It’s always nice to get over the top of them which we have been able to do lately, but anything can happen, people could get injuries, players not on their game…
“France are quite tough. I think their ball skills have got a lot better but we really just have to take it game by game, day by day.
“Our preparations for Atlanta have been really good. You look at Atlanta last year and it was snowing which was an eye-opener. We have to keep our consistency, make sure we make the top four and then work on those one-percenters.”
“Like any team, of course we’ll be hoping to take out the tournament. But as I say, it’s game by game – tick that box and we just roll through. We can’t afford to look too far ahead and get our hopes up – we’re just focused on the game in hand.
If Australia do taste victory in Atlanta – the only venue where they failed to reach the final in the 2013-14 Series – on Sunday then Williams knows it won’t just be as a result of what happened on US soil but also at their base in Narrabeen.
“It’s going to take the whole squad for us to get that Cup. And by squad, I don’t just mean the 12 that will travel to Atlanta. I mean all of the contracted players in the women’s sevens programme. Everyone has trained hard back at our headquarters in Sydney and everyone has pushed us.
“We’ve a very good culture and it’s great to see all of the girls putting in the hard yards. It can be tough for the non-travellers to be training here but we know they have our backs – they are providing us with unbelievable competition in training which improves everyone.”