Not many would be betting against the New Zealand women's sevens team winning gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics after their opening performance on the world series.
Manawatu's Sarah Goss was vice-captain of the team who comfortably won the inaugural women's world series in Dubai last weekend.
With sevens now an Olympic sport, New Zealand will be the hot favourites in four years following their 28-14 win over Australia in the semifinal and 41-0 win over South Africa in the final.
"We played outstandingly together, definitely a credit to what we had put in before," Goss said.
They were unbeaten in pool play and the only low points were two 12-all draws against Canada and Russia.
Winning the first tournament was a special one for the team but it hadn't been the most important thing about the trip.
"Our main goal was to look at our performance; if we played well we were going to be happy. Having the win was really big for us."
It was a new experience facing the sides from around the world which made for a few surprises during the tournament.
"I was surprised by a few teams, even for South Africa to make the final was an upset. Spain getting third was massive; even teams like Russia."
Goss said the Kiwis' defence was outstanding, only conceding six tries in the tournament as they started the series in perfect style.
"Everyone was so happy. Just all the work we'd put in the week before at training paid off."
Those expecting hot weather in Dubai were proved wrong on the first day.
The city broke a six-year drought when it rained.
The next round of the world series is in Houston, Texas, in February, but Goss and the rest of the national side will be keeping busy.
She will play for Manawatu at the regional qualifying tournament in Palmerston North next week, then if they make it, at the national championships in Queenstown next month.
Goss admitted there may be more responsibility on her with Manawatu now she was a regular in the national team, but was looking forward to playing against her New Zealand team-mates when they represent their provinces.
- Manawatu Standard
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