Next week's Rugby World Cup Sevens is a chance for Australia’s women's Sevens to reaffirm their standing at the top of the Sevens world, playmaker Alicia Quirk says.
Australia’s women took out the 2017-18 Sevens World Series after winning the Dubai and Sydney legs in dominant fashion, before finishing second twice and third in the final three tournaments.
This season they have the chance to claim one more cup, with the quadrennial Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco kicking off on July 20.
The Aussies lost their last two Cup finals to New Zealand, also suffering a heartbreaking Commonwealth Games gold medal match defeat to the Kiwis in extra-time, and Quirk said the side was desperate to stamp themselves as the circuit's best team once more with success at the World Cup.
“The last one was in 2013 and I personally missed out and so for it to be a five-year wait to bring that World Cup trophy back to Australia and it stamps our authority as the best team in the world and we want to bring that back here,” she said.
The players themselves have been in the spotlight in recent weeks as well with the growth of NRLW and AFLW making the race for talent more competitive than ever.
Reports that Charlotte Caslick has entertained a possible code switch to play with the Broncos in the NRL women’s competition have sparked debate across sport and Quirk said success in San Francisco would be a timely reminder of the quality of the athletes in the team, and their value to rugby.
“We want to keep building on all the performances that we've done in the past just to reiterate to Australia that we are a phenomenal team and we do work really hard and that we are professionally-based and we're doing everything we can to bring home those big titles," he said.
“Then hope that (Rugby Australia) backs us in that regard and supports us in what they need to do to retain us as players in this program.”
The Aussies will be boosted by the likely return of Quirk (knee), Sharni Williams (ankle) and Ellia Green (knee) when they name their World Cup squad on Friday, while Emilee Cherry is also on track to shake off a hamstring issue picked up in the last tournament.
Quirk said the chance to return for a tournament that falls during the usual Sevens off-season was a major motivator for her.
"It's nice that the season finishes with the pinnacle of the World Cup, especially for myself not being able to participate in the last couple of legs and not being there for the celebrations of the World Series," she said.
"I'm really excited that there is one more chance to have a crack at the top teams and to be able to finish on a high would be really exciting and make the holidays really worth it."
Coach John Manenti said the experience of that group, and their success in big tournaments would put them in good stead for the sudden-death format of the World Cup.
“You can't buy experience, so the fact they've been through it and they've done it over the years for many of them and certainly more recently in Paris, a few sudden-death style games for us will put them in good stead,” he said.
“From the coach's heart point of view, hopefully we're not in that situation but in a competition like the World Cup, they're sure to be close games and I think experience will help us get through those when they come.”
The Aussie women travel to San Francisco on Saturday ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens.