|England's Rachael Burford says she and her teammates are ready for the biggest tournament of their lives, when the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens kicks-off later this week.|
The Saracens player, who lives in Medway, Kent, arrived in Dubai on Sunday for the inaugural women's tournament, which runs alongside the men's world cup.
"It's still a bit surreal being here, it's an incredible place and it's what we have been building towards for the last year," said Burford, who has also played in the 2006 XVs World Cup, where England finished second. "This is going to be the biggest tournament of our playing careers.
"We have come here as prepared as we can be, and we are in good shape. Of course, we are not invincible and there's still more we can learn this week but we are certainly feeling ready."
England kick-off their World Cup challenge on Friday against the USA. They will also play Japan and Russia that day in the pool stages. Saturday sees the start of the knock-out stages, with the quarters, semis and final all taking place at the impressive new 'Sevens Stadium'.
"Playing our first game against the USA is going to be a big challenge to start the tournament off with," added Burford. "We played them twice in San Diego last month and they took us to sudden death in the final, so they are a very good side.
"Add into the equation playing them in the middle of the day in very hot conditions, makes it even tougher but we had a dry run here in November so we know what to expect in terms of heat, our opposition and the atmosphere of the stadium."
After tournament wins in San Diego, Dubai, London, Amsterdam, the European Sevens and the Home Nations Cup England have arrived in Dubai tagged as one of the tournament's favourites.
Burford, however, is playing down this billing. She added: "We have prepared so well, and we have put everything in place so I think we have the ability to win the world cup, but there are so many talented sides here like the Australians and New Zealanders that we can't take anything for granted."
England Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens Squad
Sue Day Wasps Captain
Maggie Alphonsi Saracens
Heather Fisher Wasps
Emma Layland Richmond
Charlotte Barras Saracens
Jo Yapp Worcester
Danielle Waterman Blaydon Team Northumbria
Alice Richardson Richmond
Rachael Burford Saracens
Claire Allan Saracens
Michaela Staniford Wasps
Katherine Merchant Worcester
Non Playing Reserves:
Sarah Beale Lichfield
Amy Turner Richmond
England Women's Playing Schedule:
Friday March 6th
England V USA, kick-off 9.12am GMT
England V Russia, kick-off 12.08pm GMT
England v Japan, kick-off 3.26pm, GMT
Saturday March 7th
Quarter, semi and final TBC
– but the sailors praise the new boats