Sunderland Echo - - Sport -

Katy Da­ley-Mclean says win­ning her 100th in­ter­na­tional cap will be a spe­cial mo­ment – but in­sists it was the last thing on her mind when she started play­ing rugby as a young­ster.

The World Cup win­ner will join a spe­cial club tonight when she reaches a cen­tury of ap­pear­ances for Eng­land when they take on USA at Al­lianz Park.

Da­ley-Mclean will be­come just the sixth Eng­land player to hit the mile­stone - join­ing men’s star Ja­son Leonard and her fel­low women’s team-mates Amy Gar­nett, Rochelle Clarke, Sarah Hunter and for­mer Jar­ro­vians coach Ta­mara Tay­lor.

It marks an­other high point in the ca­reer of the South Shields-born star, who went from watch­ing her dad David play for Westoe to be­com­ing Eng­land’s 2014 World Cup win­ning skip­per.

“It wasn’t ever some­thing I thought about when I started play­ing rugby, it wasn’t an am­bi­tion,” said Da­ley-Mclean, who is a grad­u­ate of Sun­der­land Univer­sity, and was also a teacher at Bex­hill Pri­mary School.

“I wanted to play in­ter­na­tion­als and play for Eng­land in a World Cup but it never crossed my mind about get­ting 100 caps.”

There have been so many high points for the 32-year-old but where does it rank along­side her other achieve­ments, which in­clude rep­re­sent­ing Great Bri­atin at the 2016 Olympics as well as that fa­mous World Cup tri­umph which saw her awarded an MBE?

“It wasn’t some­thing I set out to achieve,” Da­leyM­clean in­sists. “But I’m proud to join the club with Amy Gar­nett, Rochelle Clarke, Sarah Hunter and Ta­mara Tay­lor.

“To be part of that is pretty spe­cial. They are tal­ented and de­ter­mined play­ers who put in so much hard work.

“The World Cup was ob­vi­ously pretty spe­cial but there was also the Six Na­tions ti­tles and be­ing cap­tain when we lifted those.

“And win­ning in New Zealand last year which had never been done since 2001, be­ing part of that was fan­tas­tic.”

It’s 11 years since Da­leyM­clean made her Eng­land de­but and her ca­reer has pro­gressed from be­ing the bright young prospect of women’s rugby, to the finest kicker in the world. Now, as one of the more ex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers of the squad, she still has goals and am­bi­tions for more suc­cess, with pro­fes­sional con­tracts set to be rein­tro­duced to the women’s game.

“I’ve been used to work­ing in four year cy­cles with the World Cup but now it is about fo­cus­ing more short­term,” she said. “I’d love to go to an­other World Cup but there’s no guar­an­tees.

“It’s just about work­ing on me, on parts of my game and en­joy­ing my rugby now.

“With age comes more ex­pe­ri­ence, I’m more wise. I’ve got much more fo­cus on how I can im­pact the team, rather than wor­ry­ing about every­thing.”

Ever the pro­fes­sional, Da­ley-Mclean in­sists that the team comes first tonight as the Red Rose kick off their au­tumn in­ter­na­tion­als.

Katy Da­ley-Mclean.

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