Red Roses’ steely captain will achieve career milestone with her 138th cap in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Australia
Almost 16 years ago a quietly determined 21-year-old from North Tyneside won her first cap for England, coming off the bench in front of a couple of hundred souls at Old Albanians RFC. Sarah Hunter did not do much in her five minutes on the field – “I probably touched the ball once and made one tackle” – but it marked the start of a rugby odyssey that is about to propel her past every England player – of either sex – to have pulled on a white jersey.
Of course there is a bigger picture as her Red Roses seek to knock out Australia on Sunday and reach the last four of a World Cup they are desperate to win. Sitting in a modest second-floor hotel room in downtown Auckland, even so, there was no disguising Hunter’s intense pride at the imminent arrival of cap No 138, overtaking the great Rocky Clark and leaving her nearest male challengers Ben Youngs and Jason Leonard even further behind.