England wildcard Marlie Packer targets IRB Women’s Sevens World Series glory
Marlie Packer admits she is a wild card choice for England’s Sevens squad but is intent on achieving the country’s goal of World Cup glory.
The Yeovil-based flanker could earn her first cap in next month’s IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in the United States after being named in the travelling party.
Twenty-three-year-old Packer is among a number of XV-a-side England stars invited to make the switch to the semi-professional game as the Rugby Football Union gives women’s sevens greater priority.
However, Packer and the new-look squad has just one chance left to win the Sevens World Cup ahead of the creation of a Team Great Britain outfit in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Current Bristol captain and former Ivel Barbarians ace Packer accepts she was a surprise inclusion to head to Houston and said the New Year marked the start of her bid to help bring sevens silverware back to England.
“I am the wild card – as people, even coaches keep telling me – for Houston so I have got to do what I do on a XVs pitch whilst learning the skillset for the sevens game,” said Packer, who has only played sevens at a social level with the Pink Babas.
“The defence, for example, is just so much different to XVs. I have got to show my all-round fitness, which has been my massive worry.
“However, the first two weeks have shown me that it is tough but not necessarily as tough as I thought it would be. I think it will get tougher after Houston but I am loving it at the moment.
“The women follow the format and dates of the men’s sevens series. We will go to China at the end of February, there is a round in the Netherlands and then there are two more tournaments before the World Cup.
“I will have to do well in those to be selected for the Sevens World Cup. England have never won that and this will be the last chance before it becomes an Olympic sport and Team Great Britain.
“It is now or never for us and is a big focus for us. A lot of the girls went to the 2009 World Cup, they know what it is like and they have that desire. You can see how much they want it and for me coming into that new environment I have got to live up to that.”
Packer’s inclusion in the sevens squad has brought changes both on the field and in her every day life. Whilst still training at Yeovil College in the evenings with strength and conditioning coach Andy Roda, Packer trains at least two days a week with England whilst juggling commitments with employer Jones Building Contractors.
After a frantic start to 2013, Packer said her energy levels would be key to success in the sport.
“It is amazing really and I could be getting my first sevens cap, which until just a couple of weeks ago I didn’t think I would be getting any time soon,” she said.
“I am going to Houston in the next couple of weeks and then the Sevens World Cup is five months away and just around the corner.
“I came straight off the back of the New Zealand XVs series and a little bit of downtime over Christmas before having two weeks of training with England Sevens.
“That’s full time on Mondays and Tuesdays with another session on Sundays if we don’t have a club game. It takes place at Lensbury where the men’s sevens train. We don’t train together but see each other all the time and share the same environment so it’s a great experience but hard work.
“It’s not just energy on the pitch in sevens, it’s energy off of it as well. You have got to be able to switch off between games.
“Sometimes you can play three games in a day and they can be anything between an hour or three hours apart, so that will be a massive thing.
“With sevens you are close together for weeks at a time so you have got to get that right off the pitch before getting it right on the pitch. My energy naturally comes to me and that is why I love playing rugby, I have just got to adapt.”
Packer also heaped praise on Roda’s impact on her recent progress, as well as the atmosphere in a Yeovil College gym that is rapidly establishing a reputation for producing international athletes.
She said: “Andy Roda has been just brilliant. I have been working for DR Jones from 7.30am to 5pm every day and then I will get in here as soon as possible after, with Andy still here, willing to train me until 8pm on some occasions. That’s a massive ask for anybody.
“I come here four nights a week. I expect I was a bit of a pain in the backside to him when I was at Yeovil College, but he is great now. The college allow me to use their facilities and there is a great banter between all of us in the gym.
“People like Donna Creighton who is an international Bob Skeleton competitor use the gym, as well as a GB shot-putter.
“There is a good mix and it really helps as we can push each other and see how hard we can all train.
“There’s a nice family atmosphere in the gym, which is why I like it. You are surprised how many people leave the college but find themselves training back here.”