England’s record cap-holder Sarah Hunter will bow out of international rugby with a ‘fairytale’ finale in her home city of Newcastle on Saturday.
Hunter will make her 141st and last international appearance against Scotland in the Six Nations opener and then retire immediately.
The 37-year-old has captained England since 2015 and became their most-capped player at last year’s Rugby World Cup, when she surpassed Rocky Clark’s previous record of 137.
Hunter helped England to World Cup glory in 2014, was part of the sides beaten in the 2017 and 2022 finals, and has won 10 Six Nations titles and nine Grand Slams in her career.
The North Shields-born No 8 has never represented her country in Newcastle, which is why the Kingston Park clash will be so special for her.
‘It’s a fairytale ending,’ Hunter told Sportsmail. ‘Not many athletes get to choose how and when they call time on their playing careers.
‘I am very fortunate I have the opportunity to finish on my own terms. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than in my hometown where my rugby journey started.
‘I get to finish in a place that has a special place in my heart in front of my friends, family and Red Roses’ supporters and I feel very fortunate I’m able to do that.
‘What’s more, to play there in a white shirt feels like an ending I couldn’t look past.
‘Most of all, I want to say thank you to everyone that has played a part in my journey, whether that’s from when I first picked up a ball at nine-years old or more recently.
‘I am eternally grateful for the help, support and impact you have had on my career. It’s just been amazing to have so many people support my journey and allow me to be the player and person I am and to have the career I have.
‘Rugby has been brilliant to play and to represent my country will always be the greatest honour.
However, it’s not just about rugby. It’s about the people you meet along the way and the memories you create that I will look back on, remember and cherish.
‘I think that’s a very special and unique element of our sport. They’re the bits I’ll look back on and cherish the most.’ (DailyMail)