Bulleen Boomers star guard and Jayco Opal Sam Richards sat down with wnbl.com.au ahead of this weekís Jayco Opals camp in Canberra to talk about all things London, WNBL and Farewell Series.
After a couple of seasons abroad you made the decision to return to the WNBL with Bulleen. How much did lure of London play into your decision?
It definitely played into my thinking. If youíre under the eye of the selectors it gives you a better opportunity to make the team, so that was part of my decision making process.
But I also wanted to play for a good coach that was going to help develop me and thatís why I wanted to play for someone as credible as Tom Maher at Bulleen.
What have been the benefits of playing for Bulleen this season? Do you believe getting regular exposure in front of the national team coaching staff has been a positive?
You can go away to Europe for a few years and no one really hears about you, so it was a good opportunity for me to come back and get used to playing in the WNBL and play under the some great coaches.
Also being alongside Timmsy (Jayco Opals assistant coach Michelle Timms) I got some help from her along the way, and of course being under the eye of (Jayco Opals Head Coach) Carrie Graf.
Youíre fighting for a position (point guard) with a host of other players. How does that affect your mindset when youíre in camp?
You canít think about those things, youíve just got to do what youíre capable of and hope that what youíve put in is going to be good enough to make the team.
Every spot in the Jayco Opals squad is difficult to get because the depth in Australian womenís basketball is huge. No matter what position you play itís going to be tough to make this team.
The Victorian-based Jayco Opals have been training under the watchful eye of fitness guru Bohdan Babijczuk at the new Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) training centre in Albert Park. How beneficial has it been to have access to the facility?
Itís been great for me because I live only 10 minutes from the facility, so this is perfect for me. Weíve got everything here we need, the pool, bikes, weights, running track, we get to use everything here and itís just a fantastic facility.
The 2010 World Championships were your first taste of a major tournament with the Jayco Opals, finishing fifth. Does making amends for that result play a lot into your motivation heading towards London?
We were all disappointed with how things ended at the World Championships, but you put that in the back of your mind. Youíve got to focus on each game on its merits and hopefully that will see in the medal rounds.
Every team that will be at the Olympic Games will be tough so you put that in the back of your mind that a game against a team like the Czech Republic (defeated the Jayco Opals in the quarter finals in 2010) can cost you a medal a we know that, so every game is important.
Youíve been playing your club basketball in the WNBL with the Bulleen Boomers alongside two of the youngest members of the Jayco Opals squad in Liz Cambage and Rachel Jarry. How have you seen their progress?
Itís been really good to have the opportunity to play with a really young team. Iím the oldest one in the group so itís good to be around some enthusiast players.
Someone like Rachel Jarry is just full of fire and Liz (Cambage) has got so much potential.
Theyíre two great players to be playing alongside of and itíll be really interesting to see how they develop in these upcoming Jayco Opals camps.
Has taking on a greater leadership role at Bulleen translated to the Jayco Opals squad?
Iím getting a bit older now and as a point guard a lot of your role is to be a leader, so I really want to use the momentum and experiences from Bulleen and play a leadership role in this Jayco Opals group.
Despite notching up more than 50 appearances in a Jayco Opals uniform the ultimate tournament has eluded you. What would the opportunity to represent Australian in London mean to you?
Itís a childhood dream. You struggle to put it into words. Itís something youíve always wanted, but it feels so far away at the moment, but on that day when the coach picks the team you just hope that your name gets read out.
I think to play in the Olympic Games is the ultimate, so it would be a dream come true.
Youíre eastern suburbs girl from way back. What does it mean for the region to now have a state-of-the-art facility in the State Basketball Centre, Knox on the doorstep?
I think itís fantastic. The facility will create a great atmosphere for basketball in Victoria. Itís down the road from my Mum and Dadís house and a great location for the people of the eastern suburbs.
Dandenong is quite a big venue, but to have another is great for basketball.
The Jayco Opals and Boomers will be officially opening the new facility as part of The Farewell Series: Basketballís Road to London. Are you excited to usher in a new era for Victorian basketball?
I think itís amazing you get to play in front of a full house in your Australian uniform. Thereís nothing prouder that playing in front of all your friends and family for your country and I canít wait for that opportunity.
The Farewell Series: Basketballís Road to London will see our Jayco Australian Opals and Australian play in front of their adoring fans before setting off on their journey to London.
For all ticketing and event information visit www.thefarewellseries.com.au.