A Six Nations grand slam, an unbeaten Quilter International Series and now just one point behind number one ranked side New Zealand in the international rankings, England are evidently in a good place leading into next year’s World Cup.
During their successful Autumn campaign, England defeated France for the first time since 2012 and demonstrated the balance of technical skill and physicality that we have come to expect from their biggest rivals, the Black Ferns.
Their Six Nations triumph was not only emphatic but saw a record number of tries scored, 45 in total, with Jessica Breach leading the list with nine. It is players like Breach, who is still just 22 years of age and scored six tries on her international debut, alongside other experienced names such as Emily Scarratt that make England such a potent threat.
Red Rose Winger Kelly Smith echoes this belief. “I think we’re in a really good place at the moment,” Smith said. “We’re building towards the 2021 World Cup but we have to look at our recent successes and I think, with that, we’re getting loads more exposure through the wins.”
- New Zealand leading the way in supporting female athletes
- Retirement from Netball for World Cup-winning Maria Folau
- Laura Marsh announces her retirement from international cricket
Despite this optimism, Smith still says the team look at New Zealand as the standard to aspire to, even though they remain focused on themselves.
Before the World Cup gets underway next year, England will have to defend their Six Nations crown. They will play five matches over the course of just seven weeks and Smith admits she is aware of how challenging this will be on her and the rest of the team.
If England is going to be considered on par with the Black Ferns then they must come through this strong test first. They may be nearing top gear at just the right time, but as the old saying goes “you’re only as good as your last game.”News Now - Sport News