World champion Pearls have a point to prove
YOU can rest assured the Australian women's sevens rugby team will not go into the Rio Olympics harbouring any feelings of complacency, despite being the world champions.
In fact, the Pearls are still smarting from their 29-19 loss in late May to Canada in France in the final of the last tournament of the 2015-16 season.
"Losing in France was pretty tough - it was a weird feeling winning the world series but losing the final,” co-captain Sharni Williams told Australian Regional Media.
"It taught us not to get too complacent after all the wins we had (in tournaments in Sao Paolo, Dubai and Atlanta).”
The French tournament marked Williams' return to the top level after dislocating her knee on the first day of the world series in Dubai in December last year.
As she did with the loss in the final in France, Williams took some positives out of her injury.
"With me being out, (co-captain) Shannon Parry really stood out with the captaincy and you could see that with her making the Dream Team,” she said.
Williams said Chloe Dalton was another name to look out for in Rio.
"What a story she's got,” Williams said.
"She broke her arm twice and came back from that.
"She's one of the best kickers I've played alongside.
"She's so accurate and smooth with her kicking. That's an area in rugby sevens that's a game-changer, if you can get the ball back from the kick-off.
"You'll see that in the Olympics as one of the biggest game-changers and she's been thrashing her conversions too.”
Williams said Alicia Quirk, Emma Tonegato and Emilee Cherry also could shine in the tournament, which runs from Sunday morning until Tuesday morning.
"Emma Tonegato made the Dream Team as well and scored some amazing tries - having Ellia Green out for a little bit with injury, she really stepped up,” Williams said.
"She got a lot more minutes and proved herself. Emilee Cherry was always impressive and Alicia Quirk is a driving force - she knows and calls all the plays.
"Everyone plays off each other, and if you do your job then the next person does her job.”