England captain Sarah Hunter is looking forward to enjoying some home comforts as her team face their crunch match against Ireland at Castle Park in Doncaster on Sunday, writes Tom Holmes.
Both teams have won both of their opening games of the Women’s Six Nations to set up a potentially pivotal clash in the race for the title.
England’s wins came away from home in tough conditions, a 19-13 win in blistering heat in France, followed by a 53-0 thumping of Scotland at a snowy BT Murrayfield in a rearranged game.
And as England head to Doncaster looking to make it three from three against the team who are level with them in the table, Hunter is relishing the chance to return home.
Hunter said: “It’s really nice to actually get a home game after two really tough away fixtures first up.
“We’ve been to Castle Park a few times and we always get such fantastic support there.
“Ireland have had two good wins, so we know they’ll be a really difficult proposition, but we’re looking forward to a tough game.
“It’s a long tournament but it’s important that we get the wins that we need if we want to get the end goal that we have set ourselves on.”
England secured a Grand Slam in 2019, and after two games, are well on course to repeat that feat.
They have lost just one match in the Six Nations since 2017, with 16 of their last 17 Six Nations games resulting in wins.
But Ireland are in good form themselves and will be looking to upset the apple cart at Castle Park as they aim for their first title since 2015.
Hunter has seen her side win multiple Grand Slams in her 13 years and 120 caps with England, as well as playing a part in their World Cup victory in 2014.
But she said that it never gets old to captain her country, something she considers a real honour.
And while she does not lack for experience alongside her with the likes of former skipper Katy Daley-Mclean and centre Emily Scarratt, Hunter is particularly enthused by the influx of youth in the squad.
She added: “We’re still really developing as a group. We’ve been together for 18 months and you can really see that the girls are growing and showing that in the Six Nations.
“That’s because they have had international experience under their belts and that is actually coming to the fore.
“It’s great to see the young players really flourish along with the senior players. We have got a really good mix and blend in our team.
“The important thing about the side is that we enjoy spending time with each other, and we can really see the unity on and off the field as well.”