Pressure creates diamonds is the attitude driving Tim Walsh and the Aussie Sevens' new culture as they look to build on their winning ways.
The side finished fifth in Dubai with eight new debutants, pushing gold medalists Fiji to the end before falling to defending champions South Africa in the quarter-finals.
Flyer Dietrich Roache was the standout player from their campaign, producing a team-high five tries to go with 51 points, the second-highest for the tournament.
After making his debut at the Tokyo Olympics, the 20-year-old believes a newfound attitude and culture under Tim Walsh has worked wonders for the team.
“Obviously Tokyo was definitely not the result we wanted. After the time we had off, Tim Walsh is a big part of where our group is heading and I reckon the culture change has been good,” he told Rugby.com.au.
“We had a big chat about how we can change this team into a winning one and that’s the biggest thing we’ve focused on is how we can build that winning culture and one they feel welcomed in.
“With some of the core players we have, you also have guys like Billy Meakes coming in (from LA) so it’s pretty cool the culture we have that these guys can come in from other places, they’re not just making up the numbers. Guys like Meaksy and even Samu (Kerevi), these guys are coming in fit and ready and making everyone else’s jobs that much easier.
“We’ve always been a team that works hard but we’ve implemented this attitude of comparing to a diamond, especially under pressure. We want to be a team that’s moulded under pressure...It’s still early stages but we’re slowly adapting to that.”
Roache believes the injection of new faces has created a real competitive environment within the group, driving them to be better.
“Getting that mix of young guys with the few experienced guys like our captain Nick Malouf and Henry Hutchinson, it definitely makes everyone hungrier and brings training to a real competitive level,” he believes.
“I feel we’re starting to see where our team can go. I’m very positive and excited to see how this team goes this weekend.”
Whilst Roache has been with the program for nearly two years, Australia's opening match on Friday against Kenya (4:44 pm AEDT) will be the first time he pulls on the gold jersey in front of fans as they return to Dubai.
Having got his first taste of World Series life, the Two Blues product felt like one of the new boys as he savours the unique experiences of the Sevens circuit.
“Even the boys were surprised, I’ve been here for two years but I’m still experiencing all the stuff our new boys are experiencing,” he added.
“It’s very special (to play here in Dubai). I’m very grateful for the work that not just our team have put in but my family back at home, everyone sacrificing to help get me and all the boys where they are today.
“We definitely look back and feel grateful for everything we have now. All the spirits are high, we get to play the game we love and all the boys can’t wait.”
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Coming off an incredible opening tournament, Roache was continuing the processes that have set him up as one of the players to watch for 2021-22, crediting constant goal setting and an improvement in his preparation.
“The big thing for me has been goal setting,” he explained. “I do a lot of goal setting every day just to keep my mind focused on what I want to achieve as a team.
“Going into tournaments that’s really helped me as well as with some of the older players like Nic Malouf, it’s not so much what they have said but some of the stuff they do to prepare influences me to prepare better.
“With my preparation going into tournaments, I’m making sure I’m doing the right things to make sure I’m ready to go.”
As for the goal for this week?
“The only goal for this week is to win.”