Sharni Williams pays tribute to Batlow firies, fends off distraction

Womens - Sydney
by Iain Payten

If it resembles anything like her final answer at a captains' press call on Wednesday, pity the rival who cops a fend from Aussie skipper Sharni Williams at the Sydney Sevens this weekend.

Williams was nearing the end of her media duties when a question was asked about whether it was frustrating to see more Israel Folau news arise as Australian rugby prepares to stage one of its major events in the Sydney Sevens.

Folau, who was sacked last year for a series of homophobic social media posts, signed with Catalan Dragons in the Super League overnight.

The question was asked respectfully, but the answer from the usually affable Williams was ruthless.

"I don’t know who you are talking about,” Williams said.

Williams was far happier to talk about about people she respects, and respects so much she offered to bring them as have them stay as guests in her apartment while attending the Sydney Sevens this weekend.

As part of an offer by Rugby Australia to give free Sydney Sevens tickets to any firefighters involved in the bushfire crisis over the summer, Williams threw out a call to firies from her hometown of Batlow to take up the offer.

Batlow, a small town west of Canberra, was devastated by a large blaze in early January, which destroyed 20 homes and many farms and orchards.

Williams said on Wednesday that several Batlow firies had taken up the offer.

"I have got a couple of firies coming up. I haven’t had to put them on the couch just yet but I have some found accomodation, some of my mates are taking them in,” Williams said.

"Obviously the (northern) beaches are a bit far from here, it’s about an hour drive so being able to get them closer here is really important and I am so thankful they’re coming up and we are able to pay respect to them.”

 


It is anticipated over 1000 firefighters will take up the offer of free entry to the Sydney Sevens, which will this year shift from Sydney Olympic Park to Bankwest Stadium at Parramatta.

It will be the fifth Sydney Sevens tournament, and the fourth year since a women’s event was added in 2017, but Williams said the buzz of a home crowd had not lost it’s significance.

"It is an indescribable feeling, it just gives you that passion and gives you that one per cent,” Williams said.

"You hear ‘Gossy’ (New Zealand captain Sarah Goss) last weekend .. it was the first time they had played on home soil and now she understands the feeling we get when we play here.

"Like I said it is indescribable but it just gives you that you make a tackle or get up for your mate.”