Uni 7s: Title favourites UQ blocking out series picture to concentrate on Adelaide round

Uni 7s
by Emma Greenwood

They may be in the box seat but University of Queensland captain Lori Cramer says her team has blocked out any thought of an Aon Uni 7s series win heading into the final tournament of the season in Canberra.

After winning the opening round of the year at their home campus at St Lucia and making the final in rounds two and three at Bond University and the University of Adelaide, UQ is at almost unbackable odds to snare a second title this weekend.

The Queenslanders need to finish outside the top four and have Griffith University or Sydney Uni win the Canberra round to be pushed out of title contention.UQ celebrate their win in the opening round of the Aon Uni 7s at the University of Queensland. Photo: Karen Watson

But Cramer said she and her teammates had taken a blinkered approach into the final round and were thinking only about the round four challenge and their opening three fixtures on Saturday.

"Everyone's here after the win but we've tried really hard just to focus on this tournament in itself," Cramer said.

"It's really important for us to focus game by game and not get too far ahead of ourselves and not put that pressure on ourselves because everyone's talking about it and everyone's saying it but for us, we need to focus on each game as it comes.

"We're just focusing on this tournament and trying to get set for game one because everyone's got their Aussie players back and there have been upsets in the past, so we're just concentrating on that first game."

While UQ will not regain the services of Cassie Staples, who played the opening round of the Sevens World Series in Colorado earlier this month, they remain confident they can match it with other teams who will be bolstered by representative stars.

UQ (centre, with former captain Jannicke Ijdens) remain competition favourites but Griffith Uni and Sydney Uni could still snare the title. Photo: Karen Watson

"This is obviously the last tournament of the series so everyone's had time to work on their combinations and team stuff, so everyone should be at their best this tournament," Cramer said.

"Sometimes it can be good to get those good ball-players back, they can really drive the ship and obviously those Aussie girls with their experience can bring that to a team.

"But other times it can disrupt things a little bit. For us, we've been playing well, I think.

"We'd love to have Cassie back but we're just focusing on what we've got as opposed to what we've missed out on."

If they need any more motivation, UQ get it in spades, with inspirational former captain Jannicke Ijdens set to retire at the end of the series.

"She's just such a great human, not only for this team but the club, such a great leader," Cramer said.

 

"I've always known her and played with and against her here and there but this is my first Aon series with her but I've got to see what all the fuss is about. We're all excited for her and while it'll be really sad to see her finish up, I dare say she'll still be hanging around next year."

UQ and the University of Canberra won't meet until the crossovers but the hosts are also determined to finish on a high to maintain their top-four spot.

"We've mainly been focusing on trying to start as strongly as we can - our trainings have been high energy," captain Skye Churchill said.

"It's just about the confidence, I think. If we can come in with the confidence that we did on the Saturday, I think it will be pretty good."

 

Canberra will regain Aussie sevens player Sharni Williams in a boost Churchill hopes could lead to a podium finish on Sunday.

"Unfortunately we weren't able to get Yasmin (Meakes) back, she's suffering an injury but Sharni brings knowledge that no one else in this game has," she said.

"She's a natural leader, I haven't spent much time in training with her but from the few training runs that I have, I've learnt so much, she knows this game back to front."

Competition kicks off at 9am AEDT on Saturday and Sunday, with the final at 2:40pm. All matches are LIVE at RUGBY.com.au.

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