Sarah Hunter is set to become the highest-scoring player in English rugby history when she leads the Red Roses into their World Cup quarter-final against Australia on Sunday
- Sarah Hunter is set to earn her 138th Test cap for England on Sunday morning
- In doing so, she will become the most capped English player in rugby history
- She will surpass the record previously held by former teammate Rocky Clark
Red Roses captain Sarah Hunter will become the most capped player in English rugby history when she leads her side into Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final with Australia.
No.8 Hunter will make his 138th Test appearance at Auckland’s Waitakere Stadium and surpass Rocky Clark’s record.
“To play 138 caps for your country is a great achievement that deserves to be celebrated,” said England head coach Simon Middleton, who has reshuffled his side for the knockout stage.
On Sunday, Sarah Hunter is set to become England’s most capped rugby player of all time
“The way Sarah conducts herself in everything she does both on and off the field is admirable. Her people skills, ability to lead and communicate with people from all walks of life set her apart.
“She takes pride in everything she does and does it to the best of her ability.
“As a sports person, the only thing you hope to do when you look back is to say to yourself, ‘I couldn’t have given more.’
“Sarah is one of the few who will definitely be able to do it. She is a unique person and captain.”
Hunter returns to the first-choice England team to face Australia after Middleton rested his star players for the final pool stage thrashing of South Africa.
Tatiana Heard impressed in this game and has kept her place at centre, which means Helena Rowland moves to full-back and Ellie Kildon drops to the bench. Bid Sarah Byrne returns amid a formidable pack to win her 50th cap, while Abby Dow retains her place on the wing after proving she is fully recovered from a broken leg.
Captain Hunter (left) to lead the Red Roses against Australia at the World Cup
England remain firm favorites at the World Cup in New Zealand, but the start of the quarter-finals marks the start of the business end of the tournament.
“We’re really looking forward to the quarter-final against Australia this week,” Middleton added.
“England v Australia is always a big occasion in any sport and we’re looking forward to playing against a team we don’t come across very often.
“The hype has definitely built up this week ahead of the big game. “We know the importance of a fast start on Sunday. Australia have had some very fast starts in their pool games so it’s important that we improve their efforts and set the pace and fitness levels.”
England defeated Fiji, France and South Africa in New Zealand to extend their record winning streak to 28 matches.
“After three strong games of pool where I think it’s fair to say every player put their hand forward, we’ve picked 23 that we feel are right for this particular game,” Middleton added.
“Sarah is reaching 50 caps, which is quite amazing for someone so young. Sarah came on the scene at a young age and has become an integral part of our group both in terms of playing and leadership.
“We’re happy for her.”
ENGLAND XV TAKES AUSTRALIA
England take on Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals (kick-off 1.30am on Sunday, Waitaker Stadium, Auckland: Helena Rowland; Lydia Thompson, Emily Scarratt, Tatiana Hurd, Abby Dow; Zoe Harrison, Leon Infante; Vicky Cornborough, Amy Cockayne, Sarah Byrne, Zoe Aldcroft, Abby Ward, Alex Matthews, Marley Packer, Sarah Hunter (captain)
Replacements: Lark Davies, Hannah Botterman, Maud Muir, Rosie Galligan, Poppy Cleal, Lucy Packer, Holly Aitchison, Ellie Kildon