JASMINE Joyce is living the dream with Wales and has urged her teammates to embrace the challenge of causing upsets in the World Cup.
Ioan Cunningham’s side get their campaign under way against Scotland on Sunday morning and they have no room for error against their Six Nations rivals given that dates with hosts New Zealand and Australia loom.
Winger Joyce played at the 2017 World Cup in Ireland and represented Team GB at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics.
Those experiences have taught the speedster the importance of enjoyment in order to produce big displays.
“Getting selected for this World Cup was the easy part, now comes the hard part and putting in some good performances in New Zealand,” said Joyce.
“There is going to be pressure on us, but my advice to everyone will be to just enjoy the experience. We’ll be in New Zealand and the girls might get a bit flustered or overwhelmed, but we have to embrace every moment.
“The happier and more relaxed we are on the pitch, the better we will perform. There are exciting girls coming through and there is a bundle of energy in this squad, which is what we need.”
Wales are ninth in World Rugby’s rankings while the Scots are tenth, Australia seventh and New Zealand second.
The top two qualify for the knockout stages along with the best two third-placed sides from three groups.
There is little margin for error – especially against the Scots – but Joyce believes Wales are well prepared, aided by full-time contracts.
“We learned a huge amount from our two warm-up games against Canada and England, especially about each other and our culture,” said the winger.
“Being professional has given us the chance to work on things we wouldn’t have had time to do in the past. It has definitely given us an edge.
“We are in the best place possible as individuals and we are the strongest, fittest and fastest we have ever been. Now we have to come together to put in good performances.
“We are living the dream. What more could you want as a rugby player than to be playing in a World Cup in New Zealand?”
Now back to full fitness after undergoing surgery on her shoulder, Joyce will be one of Wales’ biggest attacking weapons if they can get the ball in her hands on the wing.
“I don’t feel as though I’ve been injured. It is like I’ve never had surgery, so I’m back to it. I was confident I had enough time to make the World Cup,” she added.
“I just want to get the ball in my hands and as often as possible and I’m really excited to see what these girls can do after nine months as professionals. As a back three we are trying to get more touches in the game – we want to light up the World Cup.”