We always knew the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series would come down to this final leg in Paris and having qualified automatically for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year our whole focus is now on lifting the title.
If you had told me at the start of this series that the USA would be two points off the lead going into Paris I would have grabbed it with both hands. The chance to be No.1 is something we have been discussing even before flying to London and when you are that close it is very hard not to start visualizing what it would be like. You want it so badly you can taste it and we are going to be totally tuned in to what will be needed to make that happen.
Making it to the Olympics by clinching one of the top four spots was our goal all through the Series, but having led the table for so long, we now want to finish as the No1 team. We have lots of confidence going into this last leg and having played Fiji, who won London, in the semi-finals we know there are a couple of adjustments that we can make.
Last year Fiji were also aiming to win the title and were beaten to the trophy by South Africa in Paris and they will know we are going to be pushing hard and they will need to deliver their A game. I am sure the Fiji players will have last year on their minds and be remembering that South Africa took the trophy. They will not want to come up short again.
You know what you are going to get from Fiji and you won’t stop them from scoring with their off-loading game and our priority will be to capitalise on the chances we create. They are tough team, particularly at the breakdown and we need to change the picture of what the referee is seeing this weekend in this area.
They key will be to just concentrate on our game, come out firing a little stronger and not worry about what Fiji produce in this final leg.
I was really excited to get back out there with the team in London having been out for so long with my broken jaw. It brought home just how long I have been away and I really cannot force things and must take it slowly but that is easier said than done when you are so happy to be out there with the guys.
There is so much to play for in Paris with the teams at the bottom of the table, Japan, Kenya and Wales, fighting to avoid relegation and it makes it really exciting and whoever does drop down will be replaced by Ireland. They have been really impressive and we have seen this coming from them for some years and they will be a great addition to the series next year.
One of the real bonuses of having already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics is that we get the summer off which means spending time with my family. For those teams still battling to qualify there will be summer tournaments to deal with and you really have to hit the ground running after Paris to ensure you are ready for the next challenge. After we confirmed automatic qualification on the first day of the London sevens I was sitting in the locker room and suddenly realised “we have done it – Tokyo 2020.”
It was an amazing feeling and my mind went back four years and I remembered watching Fiji and England holding the sign for photographs recording the fact they had qualified for the Rio Olympics.
I have been knocked out by the reaction to the latest special documentary film made by HSBC which shows my sporting journey which has taken me to this amazing point and it’s now about making special memories.
The French Open tennis is taking place here in Paris at the moment but unfortunately, I won’t have any time to visit Roland Garros. The only thing on my mind is trying to help the team get that title.
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