HSBC USA Women's Sevens 2018

Sarah Hirini: "We can’t fall back on what we’ve previously done"

New Zealand captain Sarah Hirini shares how her side are fully focused on what's ahead and are eager to set new markers after a title-winning world series last year.

With five HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles in seven series, creating success and backing it up is something that the Black Ferns Sevens have shown that they know how to do.

In 2019, a series that was the highest try-scoring one in history, New Zealand went on a 38-match unbeaten run and scored 167 of the 1,155 tries produced – more than any other side.

Now, as they approach a new series – and one with a record number of events – captain Sarah Hirini has shared that their hunger is as strong as ever and that their focus is firmly on the future.

"We know that our success last year was last year and that we can’t fall back on what we’ve previously done," Hirini told World Rugby. 

"We know that teams are coming out here and wanting to win here in Colorado and we want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to try and beat them."

"This weekend is going to be massive for every country. It’s about starting the season off on a high, making sure that your pre-season went really well and I’m just hugely excited to be getting to play alongside the girls again."

PRODUCTIVE PRE-SEASON AND GREATER SERIES

The eight-tournament series now means that there will be three stops before Christmas, including back-to-back outings in Dubai and Cape Town. 

The turn of the new year will see further combined events in Hamilton and Sydney before the world series carries on in earnest.

"The more exposure that the women’s game gets the bigger the fan base gets and the more that people watch it," Hirini noted. "That’s only going to increase our game and that’s all positive for us. 

"I keep saying that it is exciting, but it is! I’m just really looking forward to it."

OLYMPIC DYNAMIC

New Zealand were the first to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and secured their place for the forthcoming Olympic Games in Langford. 

After a 24-17 loss in the gold medal match in Rio 2016, the Black Ferns Sevens will arrive at the competition with their sights fixed on going one better and Hirini is honest about how an Olympic Games adds to the complexion of the year and the world series. 

“I suppose it does [change the dynamic of the season]. If you think that it doesn’t then I think that you’d be kidding yourself. 

“Obviously you know that there’s something at the end of it but you have to focus upon right now as well and that’s going to create a lot of opportunities and challenges. 

"The competition is so high that if there is a potential that you miss one [world series event] then it 's quite challenging to get back in. But, that’s why you work every day to try and achieve your goal of making it in the squad."

BUTTERFLIES OF EXCITEMENT

As the world series commences again, and Hirini approaches her 36th tournament, the Black Ferns Sevens captain is as excited as ever. 

"It’s a huge honour to wear this black jersey so when you get named [in the squad] back in New Zealand, you still get the little butterflies and it’s a feeling like no other.

"Then, you come away to a tournament and you still travel the world with a bunch of mates that you love and represent your country and your family on the biggest stage is what it’s all about. It’s really special."

gemma fay
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