Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 will be her third tournament, but Beatriz Futuro Muhlbauer's hunger to wear the Brazil jersey hasn't waned, even 14 years on from playing in their first foray on the international stage.
Futuro is one of 20 women who have been working hard with coach Reuben Samuel to prepare for RWC Sevens, a tournament they qualified for by winning a 13th Sudamérica Rugby title last November.
Since then they have only played in three tournaments, failing to regain their HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series core team status at the first attempt after losing in the qualifier quarter-finals in Hong Kong in April and then playing as the invitational team in the HSBC Canada Sevens, the highlight of which was their incredible comeback win over Russia.
“We are coming to the end of our preparation ... we're tired, but in a good place,” admitted Futuro. “We had a handful of days off after Hong Kong and since then, never stopped.”
Training at Sao Paulo’s High Performance Centre, the team is financially supported by both the Confederação Brasileira de Rugby and the government, allowing them to have their focus solely on their opening RWC Sevens match against Canada, one they must win to remain in title contention under the new innovative knock-out format.
A challenge that Futuro and her team-mates are relishing.
“The format doesn’t allow us to look beyond that first game. We start against the fourth best team in the world, but they are in a rebuilding process as they have lost Jen Kish and other key players,” she said.
Aiming higher for the future
“If there is ever only one chance to beat them, it is now. They are the team under pressure and we will throw everything into that game.”
Futuro has seen lots of change in her 14 years with Las Yarras, but knows that there is lots of hard work ahead if Brazil are return to the series in the countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“Certainly, the game has changed tactically and physically since I started. Before we couldn’t pass beyond five metres, now our passes are of 20. I think rugby is more attractive, with more precision and a higher standard. Now we work with GPS, and all what technology can offer to ensure we are at our best.
“Having won so much in our region made us repeat ourselves as it was good enough.
“Now we have a bigger goal, a mandate. Next year we have the Olympic Games qualifying, the Pan American Games and obviously we want to get back on the series. If we are not there it is because we did not have the required standard and we must work to get better.
“China disappeared for four years and came back much stronger to regain core team status for next series. We have to develop and work on the standard of our girls.
“Going to a tournament every now and then and competing against core teams is very tough. We managed to show that with work we can be competitive. Our coach has got tougher with us and that is positive.”