Making Airwaves: Heather Fisher

KITAKYUSHU, JAPAN - APRIL 22:  Heather Fisher of England during the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series 2016/17 Kitakyushu pool match between USA and England at Kitakyushu Stadium on April 22, 2017 in Kitakyushu, Japan.  (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Renowned for terrorising defences around the world, England 7s star Heather Fisher has taken on a new challenge. The experienced flanker has started working part-time as a co-presenter for Marlow FM. We sit down with Heather to find out more.

Can you talk us through your experience so far at Marlow FM?

It’s been a huge amount of fun and I’ve learnt so much. I love my rugby and I feel incredibly privileged to be a full-time athlete but I need to find ways to keep my mind active off the pitch. I have always enjoyed listening to radio and the thought of presenting has always sparked an interest. Following a chat with my strength and conditioning coach who suggested getting in touch with Marlow FM, I now co-present the prime time slot from 5pm to 7pm on Monday and Tuesday evenings. The team at Marlow FM have been incredible and so supportive, they have taken me under their wing and I feel like I’m constantly learning new things. It’s been a crazy challenge so far, I’m completely out of my comfort zone but I absolutely love it.

What are your goals for the role?

I want to be a breakfast presenter. I know it sounds unrealistic and crazy but I am so motivated to make it happen. Radio is different to anything I have ever experienced and gives me such an incredible buzz every time I’m on air. I’ve always been a very instinctive rugby player and I feel it’s the same in the radio studio. I have to think so quickly and often the things I say are the first words that pop into my head.

Have you taken inspiration from any radio presenters?

I love Ed James and Gemma Hill from Heart Radio. I listen to them on my daily commute to our training base at Bisham Abbey and they have this amazing ability to captivate their listeners. They always make me smile and they definitely set the tone for the rest of my day. If I could have the same impact on our listeners I would be very happy.

Turning to rugby, it’s a big season ahead for England 7s, with the World Series, Commonwealth Games and World Cup, how are the preparations coming along?

We’re in great shape. We have an outstanding blend of youth and experience within our squad and we’ve been working exceptionally hard to take our game to the next level. We have a clear and precise game plan, which suits our strengths and the style we want to play. Obviously it’s a massive year, but we’re focusing on taking small steps and building across the season. We’re very excited about the opportunity that lies ahead.

Can you describe life under new head coach James Bailey?

James has been a huge positive for our squad and has made an immediate impact. He allows us to play with freedom and expand our game into new and exciting areas. It’s great to have a new approach to our training schedule and match preparation.

With the squad building towards the Commonwealth Games and World Cup, are you confident you can use the experience from Rio to push for a medal finish?

The experience we had throughout the Olympics was enormous and we learnt so much that will definitely play a huge part in how we play throughout this season. We’re really focussed on making sure we play our best throughout the World Series first, and building our game towards the two major competitions. For us it’s about taking small steps, and making sure we’re being the best we can be every single time we play.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 03:  Heather Fisher of England makes a break during the pool match between England and USA in the 2017 HSBC Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium on February 3, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Jason McC/Getty Images)

You’ve played 27 tests for England Women but at what point did you decide you wanted to focus on 7s?

I’ve always loved 7s. I received my first 7s cap the same year I made my test debut for England. I find my game is more suited to the pace and intensity of the shorter game, and it gives me the freedom to play to my strengths. It was hard watching the girls at the World Cup this year knowing I’m capable of contributing and performing at international level, but deep down I know I’ve made the right decision to focus on 7s.

Finally are there any areas of your game you’ve been working on?

My side-step. My game has always formed around my acceleration, speed and power, but the ability to avoid contact rather than crashing through defences is something I’m looking to improve.