Curator of Rugby World Cup @ katymc10
Sarah Hunter is an exceptional talent at 14 and has reinvented her game over the years to fend off stiff competition for her England spot as she prepares for the calendar squad at 37. 138 against Australia in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final, writes Katy Daley -McLean
Last updated: 10/27/22 9:32 pm
When it comes to what it takes to be a Red Rose, the qualities and attributes you need, Sarah Hunter ticks each box and then a number of boxes.
The focus will again be on Sarah this week as England prepare for their World Cup quarter-final against Australia as she becomes the player with the most caps with her 138th appearance – and rightfully so.
I’ve known Sarah since we were both 14 and over 20 years later, she hasn’t really changed one bit. She still plays with the same broad work ethic she did all these years ago and is just a wonderful, very grounded person who keeps her job and cares about others. I couldn’t think of a more deserving and hardworking person to get this gown from Rochelle Clark.
I first met her when we were playing rugby as teenagers for the Gateshead U14 team. After that, we faced each other many times at the county level – when she played for Northumberland and I played for Durham. When we were about 17 we got back together again for our northeast region and our careers have been roughly parallel from then until I retired, since then she continue its position at the top of the game.
I certainly remember playing with her in our younger days, Sarah being taller than many girls our age. She’s a great ball carrier – still – and you certainly already know about her presence and abilities when you’re up against her. She has that infectious smile she used to wear on and off the pitch now that back in those days too and is just a wonderful person to be around.
Sarah and I will continue to test against Scotland in our opening six-country match in 2007 and then, seven years later, we won the World Cup playing together. I always look back on that 2014 success and think how lucky I am as captain to have Sarah as my vice-captain – I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. She was very focused on supporting me, perhaps at her own expense, and that is why she became the captain of the most restricted England team.
For me, that’s just one of the reasons why she deserves to lift that trophy for a few more weeks. It would be the perfect recognition not only for what she has achieved in the game, but for all her hard work and the selfless individual she is having in a team sport.
It’s been lonely being captain, but to know Sarah has always been by my side and supported me throughout the process of building the 2014 World Cup and lifting the trophy has been amazing. There’s a picture of me locking hands with Sarah on the field after our win over Canada in the final and, as they say, if a picture is a thousand words, it perfectly sums up how we feel. in that moment.
When I was alive, I was always in the middle of things, but there were also experienced players around me like Tamara Taylor, Amber Reed and Rachael Burford who supported Sarah and I in the lead. Sarah will go on to succeed me as England captain, and has been very good at using experienced players around her such as Emily Scarratt, Abbie Ward and Natasha Hunt. Sarah will be the first to realize that she has grown with experience and feel more comfortable in the kind of captain she has become.
Now, when you observe her, you will see how she leads and how comfortable she is with what she needs to do. While working with her leadership team and those around her, she plays to her full potential as captain and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could do it better.
Sarah has also suffered from changes to the game over the past few years, including her transition from amateur to professional. You have to keep reinventing yourself and Sarah has certainly done that with the way England want to play and the competition for that number 8 shirt. Certainly not Sarah untouchable, she has battled challenges from so many talented players, Poppy Clearall is one of them, but she will still be one of the first names in the series. Simon Middleton’s team.
Of course, like any player playing in those amateur days, there are sacrifices to be made along the way. Those are the choices you made for elite sport and playing for your country while working full time. Whether it’s weddings and christenings that you miss because you’re always playing on the weekends, have to respond with ‘I’d love to but I’m committed to rugby’ to most invitations, or fall in love. Ask your family to plan big events around you British Calendar.
That’s the beauty of when Sarah hit that record limit, she played and led in both eras, through her amateur days of play with work and then into a complete professional era. whole. The way Sarah has adapted to those changes and continues to grow is, again, just a credit to her and who she is.
There is no question that Sarah is still fueled by the pain of losing the 2017 World Cup final to Black Ferns, where we led 17-5 at half-time, only to suffer a 41-32 defeat. She blames herself a lot for that loss in Belfast, and that’s what keeps the fire burning as she seeks to put those mistakes right in New Zealand. England have a huge chance to lift that trophy on November 12 and if they do, Sarah Hunter will finally have the ‘World Cup captain’ jacket she so much deserves. .
England play Australia in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final at 1:30am on Sunday