In her final column before Women's Rugby World Cup 2010
kicks off three weeks today, Cheryl Soon reveals the positive vibe
in the Australian camp as they attempt to secure a unique World Cup
READ CHERYL'S PREVIOUS COLUMN >>
It has been a busy time since my last column as we've had a couple of camps, some internal matches and trial matches which meant the coaching staff have been able to have a look at everybody to see how they are progressing before the selection camp three weeks ago. We have one more assembly in a couple of weeks, on 9 August in Canberra before we leave for the World Cup.
Everyone has worked really hard, the Wallaroos' squad has been selected now and there are some very happy girls and obviously some very disappointed ones as well who didn't make the squad. It has been a busy and hectic schedule, but now we are looking to ramp it up a bit. Everyone is just really excited and wants to get over there to England. We know what it's like to be successful and we want to aim to do it again.
We have a few characters in the squad named by our coach John Manenti. There is a big one in Debby Hodgkinson, the IRB Women's Personality of the Year. She certainly is a special character. We have other girls, a few Pacific Island girls, they are very interesting, vocal and very caring. We have girls who like to be heard, who are very funny, all sorts of characters. Everyone compliments each other and gets on and that is crucial when seclectinbg a team.
There are some funny people. We have story times and people get
up and tell stories. A couple of girls got up and told stories
about their personal lives, how they got proposed to, funny stories
about their boyfriends.
It has been very entertaining and relaxing. Sometimes you need to switch on and switch off and this is a great way to do that, hearing stories about what happened to them. One girl has a nickname which her GP gave to her, although I'm not sure I should continue with that story! Sharing stories creates a strong bond between the squad.
Sevens success an inspiration
We do have a few girls from the Sevens, although we lost one of them in the last camp to injury which is a huge loss. We have a lot of depth coming into the squad anyway and we are very fortunate that we do have a lot of experience with girls from the Sevens World Cup and other World Cup 15s as well because that kind of experience is invaluable.
We been focused on getting over there and getting the job done and while we have achieved a lot before with the Sevens, our main focus is 15s and trying to go there and do our best. We are up for the challenge ... it is going to be a huge challenge but we are all up for it.
Australia obviously travel to England as Sevens world champions and that is inspiring. The girls who weren't part of that success are definitely inspired by what we achieved and they know that the Sevens' girls had a taste of what it is like to be successful and that is something we are aiming to do in 15s and having the Sevens' girls there is inspiring.
We are confident, but that is not to say we're cocky. We are just confident and really excited about it and everyone has been working hard and it shows in our testing we get back. We have all been doing the hard work and just can't wait to get over there.
We have one more camp first though and I hope everyone gets through that unscathed and that we gel as much as we can in that last camp. We have got a really good team harmony, all the girls are best friends and gets on with each other. We have had that taster of success and I think we have got a pretty good chance of bringing home the silverware again.
A dream come true
There has been talk about united the Sevens and 15-a-side World Cup and that would be amazing, it would be incredible ... I would probably hang up my boots after that and be happy. It would just be amazing. The girls can do it and they believe we can do it and that is what it comes down to, 26 girls just believing we can do it.
They want it and it would be absolutely phenomenal, a dream come true. It would just change the future of the Women's Rugby in Australia. We did it for Sevens and everyone was inspired, a lot of girls wanted to give the sport a go and to do that for 15s too will definitely be good for growth in Australia.
That said we know it will not be easy to realise that goal and we will take each game as it comes, starting with our pool games against New Zealand, Wales and South Africa. Everyone knows they can't afford to take anyone lightly, but we are chomping at the bit to get going.
I don't think anyone is an easy opponent to be honest, this is a World Cup, everyone wants to win and it is the team who wants it the most who will win. You can't say any pool is easier than any other, you have to play each game like it is a grand final, the grand final of the World Cup and that is how we are going to play.
Looking at New Zealand, they are the World Cup benchmark that everyone is striving to try and reach. South Africa, one of our pool opponents, are bridging that gap. I know South Africa have invested a lot of money into their World Cup campaign and are becoming a formidable side, especially in Sevens.
There are no weaknesses in any pool. This is going to be the toughest World Cup so far and that is how it should be, it's a World Cup and you are playing against the best in the world.
No forgone conclusion
I would much prefer to have a hard pool than going in with easy wins and be half cooked and come to the crunch time in the tournament and say jeez, we have now got a game on our hands. We want to test ourselves against the best and you have to play the best that you can and that is what we have got to do.
You have to beat the best to win and that is what we are looking to do. It is a difficult pool, but I am sure other teams have difficult pools. It is going to be interesting and intense.
I think the standard just keeps improving each year and that is definitely what will be on show in the World Cup. I know the focus is 15s, but it was definitely on show in Dubai at the Sevens World Cup. Women are very athletic and talented, the game is going to continue to grow across the globe.
It is changing and it has changed a lot, it is no longer just New Zealand and England, there are a lot of other nations in the mix. We are bridging that gap and the World Cup is not just going to be an England-New Zealand final, it could be anyone. That is what it should be and it is exciting. The World Cup is going to be like that, a lot of people will come and support it.
Over here they are going to be showing games on Fox Tel and that is huge for Australia. They haven't shown our games on TV before. It isn't live, but it's being broadcast on TV and that is a huge thing. There are a few expectations on us doing well over there and we will just see how it all goes.
This Australian squad will bring physicality, the girls have been working on their physicality. Coming from a Sevens and Touch background you expect really sharp skills, the standard level is high and from what I have seen and the experience we do have that never give up attitude and the passion.
We want it, we desperately want the 15s World Cup and I believe we can do it.
Next week we catch up with Sweden captain Ulrika Andersson-Hall to find out how their preparations for a first World Cup since 1998 have been going and learn more about the squad that will travel to England.