England Sevens talks to Sky Sports about being used as cannon-fodder, training and the desire to succeed.
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC
Last Updated: 03/06/12 2:17pm
England Sevens star Joanne Watmore has come a long way since being used as 'cannon-fodder' by her elder brother.
From being tackled at a young age by her sibling, the Worcester centre has gone on to become the darling on Twickenham after her hat-trick in the final of the Marriott London Sevens helped England beat the Netherlands.
Hard work and dedication has seen Watmore progress from turning up at Widnes RUFC in her leotard, fresh from ballet classes, to the England jersey - and she hasn't finished yet.
"I have got an older brother and I can remember I was always his cannon fodder," Watmore told Sky Sports.
"I used to have to go out and run at him so he could tackle me or I would have to go down to his training as dad was looking after me, so I used to join in with the boys and play.
"I used to do ballet and tap and dance. My little sister actually played rugby before me. I went to watch her train, so I just jumped in and started playing with the girls and it went from there."
From those humble beginnings, Watmore went on to earn England honours at Under-18s, U19s, Academy, Students, Select XV, A team and Sevens levels - as well as for national side at rugby league.
Unlikely her male counterparts, though, Watmore has had to juggle playing with a packed training schedule - spread out across Worcester, Manchester, Guildford and at home in Cheshire -the daily grind of working life and family commitments.
But fortunately she has a very understanding boss - with Watmore looking after the accounts for her father's company - as well as a rugby-playing boyfriend.
And that means she can look forward to what could be a career-defining 12 months after she was named in England's elite playing squad.
"At the moment we have a few tournaments coming up so it is getting quite busy, but because I have been doing it for so long that I am used to it and have learned to adjust," admitted Watmore.
"You just have to sacrifice other stuff at times.
"I am quite privileged as my dad is my No.1 supporter and he understands if I come back a bit tired or need a day off for the travelling. Some of the girls have it a bit harder as they have to take leave or the girls that work for themselves can suffer a loss of earnings.
"My boyfriend Dominic is really understanding, too, as I am always away training or playing. He plays as well and I think he is the only one that would put up with me!
"We train together and if I need someone to help me he is there. He has been doing drop kicks for me recently to catch. If I ask, even if he doesn't want to he will come out and sprint with me and try and chase me down."
Following the men into turning professional seems to be the way forward for the women - particularly with the Sevens team set to be involved in the IRB World Series, as well as a host of other tournaments coming up ahead of the format being included in the 2016 Olympics.
However with the current squad having won the titles in Hong Kong and London - on the back of finishing as runners up in Dubai - Watmore admits the status quo is working well.
"I wouldn't mind being professional but I think that with the set up with the RFU and the facilities at the EIS, everyone is quite organised and working hard, plus we are getting the same results as some of the teams that are professional," said Watmore.
"I think if keeps growing - next year there is the World Series - then it has to be professional because of all the time that you will have to have off work.
"I think the more interests other countries show will help the sport to grow, which means it will develop and England will have to develop with it. At the moment, though, the England set-up as it is is successful so there must be something right with it."
Part of England success, though, has been through the desire of the individuals - with a lot of the training for the Sevens side being done in solitary.
And although it would be tempting to take it easy at times, Watmore claims the competition for places means no one can afford to relax.
"I am not training at Worcester at the moment as it is the off-season so I train at the EIS two to three times a week and then rest of time I train by myself in the mornings and evenings," she said.
"I don't really like training by myself, I would rather have someone to train with. But you get used to it and adapt.
"You could slack off but you don't. The mentality of players is the same. When we have spoken about training on our own before, you have something called pitch sprints - which are a killer - and me and Michaela (Staniford) picture ourselves trying to score a try with someone chasing us down, while Sonia (Green) and Heather (Fisher) picture themselves chasing someone down.
"It is good too that we have had the likes of Tash Brennan taking their chances and shining in Amsterdam because it means you can never relax.
"It is good to have that competition because on those training sessions when you could take it easy then you think of those players and it spurs you on because you want that shirt."
Although it is on the Sevens circuit Watmore has excelled, a full England cap has so far eluded her.
However she is hoping that the 2012/13 season will see that change - with games coming up against New Zealand, France, USA as well as the RBS Six Nations.
"I think it is everyone's ambition to play as high a level of rugby as they can," she added. "I love playing rugby and want to go as far as I can so hopefully one day I can get that cap."
And given her try-scoring exploits at Twickenham, Watmore has every chance to adding to her impressive collection of honours.