Friedrichs grabbing Sevens opportunity

by Jill Scanlon

This time a year ago, 21-year-old Georgie Friedrichs was on a plane to Langford, preparing for her international debut.

Selected in the squad for round four of the 2015/2016 World Series in Langford, a mark that comes back around this week, Friedrichs’ swift entry onto the international Sevens field of battle was unexpected, not unlike many of her teammates'.

“I was on a development contract in late 2015 and then was given a full contract around Feb 2016 – so I wasn’t on development for long,” she said.

“I really thought I would be on (one) for at least 12 months.”

Friedrichs is one of four children and home is a small property in Toowoomba to where she returns whenever possible for family time and to unwind from the demands of her new busy life.

There's athleticism in her genes, with her mother and one of her sisters keen marathon runners.

Friedrichs though has chosen to take to the field, the next in a stream of talent to emerge from this rugby-loving area of regional Queensland, following in the footsteps of Emilee Cherry and the Etheridge sisters.

Partly because it was so unexpected, she admits the move south to Sydney was difficult initially, but she is now adapting to life as a full-time athlete.

Friedrichs was joined on her adventure south to Sydney by fellow Toowoomba talent Demi Hayes when they both took up their initial development contracts in late 2015.

As is the culture in the sevens unit the two now share a house, taken in under the watchful eye of  teammate Charlotte Caslick and her partner, the men’s squad captain Lewis Holland.

The overall mentorship from the senior members of the team is a key factor coach Tim Walsh and the sevens staff rely on to help the new players settle in to life as an elite player.

“Yes you can definitely go to them asking questions. I go to Shannon and Emilee to ask about things and they’re always willing to help you out,” Friedrichs said.

Friedrichs started her sporting life as a swimmer and then moved out of the water and on to the footy field playing touch as a young teen.

As an adult though, she has found her niche in Sevens, enjoying the room to move and the physicality of the contest.

“There is a lot more space (in sevens) and the contact side of it was very different to Touch so it was exciting to have a bit of a switch up in that respect,” she said.

Tim Walsh has identified her point of difference in her ability as a utility player, looking to use her across the field.

“I’m not super-fast but I can kick well, I can play different positions and I have good ball skills,” admitted Friedrichs.

She has also come to realise the difference between sevens at the domestic level and the elite, understanding it is not all about what happens on the field during game time.

“It’s really interesting how different it is compared to the domestic tournaments,” she said.

“Just being around the girls who have done it for the last four or five years and watching how they prepare for tournaments and trying to almost mimic them and use their techniques to prepare for games.”

While it has been a fast-track start to her career at the top level, Friedrichs has many goals ahead but is well aware it is each step along the way which is the key.

“I definitely have goals but I keep those in the back of my mind and I just like to work on what I need to do to be in the next team for the next tournament.”

Friedrichs was on the plane to Langford again this week, but plenty has happened since that whirlwind trip in 2016.