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Hunter seeing hard work pay off

Englands Sarah Hunter blogs for the first time for www.scrumqueens.com. The England backrow will blog regularly throughout the coming season.The 27 times capped Lichfield player has made a strong impact for her country in recent seasons, culminating with a starting berth in last years Womens Rugby World Cup final. This year Hunter has featured strongly again, part of England winning Six Nations and European Trophy teams. Shell be looking for a third title in the coming weeks at the Nations Cup in Canada.

By Sarah Hunter

It doesnt seem like five minutes since last season ended and now the new season is about to begin again!

Once the Six Nations finished in March we headed back to our clubs to finish the domestic season before attending trials in which the new England Elite Player Squad (EPS) was selected. For myself and a few other members of the Six Nations squad we joined forces with England A, and headed off to Spain to compete in the European Trophy, which I am pleased to say we won.

Weve really only had a month off to recover and relax and then we have been back into it full swing. We had our first EPS camp in June and although we only had a short time away from each other it was great to get back together again with an exciting summer to look forward to.

The first camp of the new season is always all about fitness testing, followed by eight weeks of strength and conditioning training which is tough! This means a return to early morning gym sessions before work and very tired bodies, something which took a little getting used to after a nice rest, especially for me as I managed to fit in a rare family holiday to Ibiza for my cousins wedding.

During the off season our coaches Gary Street and Graham Smith have been travelling the length and breadth of the country to run small group skills sessions which helps us to focus on the technical detail well be working on throughout the new season. These did start off at quite a low intensity but it didnt last long and now they are hard and very physical!

June saw the Nations Cup squad selected and the squad announced is a really exciting young team. There are several uncapped players, all with masses of talent and I am looking forward to playing with all of them. Amy Garnett has also been called back into the squad and is likely to get her 100th cap in Canada, an absolutely remarkable achievement which will be an honour to be a part of.

In preparation for the tournament weve had two training camps where weve worked hard on playing and gelling together as a new squad as well as working on how we want to play out in Canada. We know that the teams we will face out there will be very tough and test us all the way. All three sides are extremely physical, have high skill levels and bags of pace. There will be no easy game out there especially in the sweltering heat. We know we will have to be at the top of our game if we want to retain the Nations Cup.

England will compete in the upcoming Nations Cup from August 2nd. They will face Canada, USA and South Africa.