Having arrived on the senior international scene as an 18-year-old just last season, England’s Emily Scarratt has wasted no time in leaving an instant impression.
With 12 tries to her name in just 12 senior appearances, Scarratt has been named in the centre as a starter against the world champion Black Ferns this weekend.
The selection continues a meteoric rise for the 19-year-old Sports Science student at Leeds Metropolitan University who will undoubtedly be one of the youngest players on the pitch this Saturday at Esher.
The teenager says that playing New Zealand will be a huge high for the England players who will have one eye on the World Cup next year which will be held in London.
New Zealand have been at the back of our mind since we knew they were coming over to play us but we had to get the Nations Cup this summer over with first and get that job done before we could really turn our minds to it. In between weve had club games and the Super 4s and now we can focus on it fully. I have seen some footage of them playing at the last World Cup and Im just very excited. Not many teams get to play New Zealand we believe that we are capable of beating any side in the world.
Lining out against the Black Ferns at just 19, might seem remarkable for those who havent followed Scarratts career to date, but the centre had been marked out for great things since she took up the game at just five years old at her local club Leicester Forest East before then coming through the England ranks at U19, U20 and then briefly at A level.
However the impact she made on the senior set-up would have surprised many as she now averages a try an appearance for her country and has been one of the stars of the past 12 months for England.
I started off with the U19s and then moved onto the U20s before being called into the England A team at the end of the 6 Nations in 2008 and then into the senior squad at the Nation Cup at the end of last summer. I was very surprised it all happened so quickly and was slightly in shock when Gary (Street) called me to ask if I wanted to join the senior squad.
As the youngest player in the current senior set-up Scarratt has had to learn her trade quickly though no doubt her ability to take her chances will have impressed her fellow players.
Since first playing for England, training for me has moved up to an intense level Ive been working hard to progress to the standard you need to be at to play at that level. Getting organised to train the six days a week you need can be manic but Ive got very understanding lecturers and tutors so I have been juggling the various weight, speed and endurance sessions that are required alongside all the usual training and skills work. Its slightly different as a student because I can fit my training into the day easier than those who are working but theres obviously a lot of study required if I want to get a good degree.
Making her debut at the Nations Cup, Scarratt then became a mainstay in Englands midfield, being picked to start every 6 Nations game earlier this year.
The 6 Nations this year was an amazing experience for me. I had played at the Nations Cup but the 6 Nations is huge and its a competition obviously everyone know about and to get to start all of the games was great. Gary gave me a great opportunity to show I was up to the standard and I know that chances like that at my age are really rare so I wanted to prove I was up to it and hopefully I did that.
England will have three opportunities to beat New Zealand this month and should they do so they will break a record 23-game unbeaten run and give themselves a huge psychological boost going into a World Cup season.
Winning the first game is important. We have obviously got a huge match at Twickenham the week after but we want to go out there and set out our stall this weekend first of all.
And her advice to fellow rising young players?
Its a clich but I would just say youve got to work very hard to get there and do all you can do. Youve also got to have a proper balance in what you are doing and make sure enjoy it.