By Paul Eddison, Sportsbeat
Marlie Packer has just been crowned the best female rugby player on the planet and now the England skipper is readying for battle in the world’s best league.
Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby – the top flight’s new name after a summer rebrand – will see nine heavyweight sides go head-to-head, as Packer’s Saracens look to re-establish their position as the pick of the bunch.
Over the first four completed seasons of the competition, Saracens won three titles and were runners-up in the other. In three of those finals, they faced London rivals Harlequins.
But after Exeter Chiefs broke the hegemony by reaching the final in 2022, last season’s showpiece featured neither London side as Gloucester-Hartpury took down the Chiefs.
Red Roses skipper Packer is itching to get stuck in, particularly after the news this week that TNT Sports have come on board and will be televising one match per round in a landmark broadcast deal.
— Premiership Women's Rugby (@ThePWR) November 17, 2023
“This league, this year, is going to be the best by far,” she said.
“We’ve got so many competitive teams, it’s going to be really exciting and I’m just really looking forward to kicking off this weekend.
“The league kicked off back in 2017 when I joined Saracens and we won the first-ever title. From there to where it is now, every year, it just keeps growing, the crowds keep coming in to watch us.
“It’s so exciting to play in it, it’s the best league in the world. You see that from all the other nations, players wanting to come and play in our league.”
Saracens will kick off their campaign this weekend against Loughborough Lightning, who can call on Red Roses playmaker and former Saracen Helena Rowland among their number.
For Packer, named World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year after leading England to victory in WXV 1, a flying start is key as Sarries look to re-establish their credentials as the league’s top side.
She added: “You need to look after business in the early part of the season, you can’t look too far ahead.
“We need to make sure we get this side of Christmas in a good place and then we can look to the end of the season.
“Being a Saracens player and wearing a Saracens shirt, we want to win and we want be there at the end of the season, winning trophies.
“That’s what my personal drive is and I know it’s the same for the rest of the girls.”
Keep up with all the news from Premiership Women's Rugby at thepwr.com