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Hunter: The biggest pressure comes from us

Hunter: The biggest pressure comes from us

Sarah Hunter says England are blocking out the noise and ignoring any title talk as they go in search of a third straight Women’s Six Nations trophy.

England are the two-time defending champions and have not lost a Women’s Six Nations game since France beat them back in 2018.

They start their 2021 campaign against Scotland on Saturday before facing fellow Pool A opponents Italy a week later.

They will then host the team that finishes in the same position in Pool B on Super Saturday but captain Hunter says they are refusing to look that far ahead.

“I think the biggest pressure comes from within ourselves and the standards and expectations we set each other,” she explained.

“Not just from a results point of view, but from a performance perspective too. We want to be playing well and putting into practice what we are doing in training and that is a really key focus for us.

“Since the autumn and through January, the girls have been training immensely hard. That has been a big focus into this Six Nations.

“I know everyone is saying it will be an England and France final but we can’t pay attention to that, we have just got to focus on getting the performance right and hopefully that will impact the result, see us top the group and get to the final.

“That is our goal and the standard we set of one another. When you are in a bubble, you forget the outside world.”

Hunter, 35, is back fit after a hand injury to lead England into the Championship but she will be without long-term teammate Katy Daley-Mclean, who retired in December.

England now face the unenviable task of finding a new fly-half but in Zoe Harrison, Meg Jones and Helena Rowland they have plenty of exciting young options.

“This is our first proper Six Nations without Katy [Daley-Mclean] and it is going to be different. She is very experienced and has filled that ten shirt for over a decade,” Hunter said.

“We have some young contenders in Zoe [Harrison] and Helena [Rowland], who have been mentored by Katy along the way and I would throw Meg Jones in there. She has been playing at ten for Wasps this season and then doing so in camp.

“Zoe Harrison is a bit more of a distributor and controls the game through kicking and playing in the right areas. Helena has spent some time with the sevens and attacks that gainline, and takes things on herself. She uses her footwork to beat defenders and puts people in space. She makes breaks herself and also has a great boot.

“Meg Jones is a maverick, you don’t know what she is going to do at times in terms of seeing what’s there. She is very instinctive and so we have three different tens, which is exciting for us as a team.

“We can mix it up and have different personnel who can do different things depending on the state of the game. All are young and champing at the bit. And all have been playing well in the Premier 15s too. I am sure it will be a selection headache for Simon [head coach Simon Middleton].”