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51-cap scrum half Turner relishing hooker slot

01 November 2011

  • Scrum half Amy Turner makes the switch to hooker
  • I've always seen myself as a hooker playing at No.9 says 51-cap star
England Women's Amy Turner dives over for a try against Ireland during the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup

Photo: Getty Images

England scrum half Amy Turner, who has played 51 games for her country is set to embark on a new era in her international rugby career tomorrow in the No.2 shirt.

The Richmond star is set to make her move into the England pack after being named at hooker for the uncapped game against France on Wednesday, kick off 6pm GMT, at the Jean Bouin Stadium in Marseille.

Switching from scrum half to hooker in international rugby is an unusual move but for Turner the move isn’t a huge leap as she started her rugby career inbetween the props.

The 27-year-old said: "I have always seen myself as a hooker falling into the scrum half position to be perfectly honest. I was not a scrum half who just wanted to try something new.

"Not many people will know this but I actually played all my junior rugby as a hooker. It just so happened then that our scrum half injured herself and I was the only player there who could consistently pass from the left and right so I stood in.

"From there I was asked to go to regional trials and it just sort of snow balled. I loved playing scrum half as I could kick the ball, pass and I could do whatever I wanted really, it was just that it was all rather accidental.

"I have always said to myself that when I achieved what I have done as a nine that I would give hooking another go. It’s comfortable and it feels right for me now. Looking ahead I have now got four years to go before the next world cup and my challenge is to be the best hooker in the world by then."

England Women's experienced scrum half Amy Turner, who make her first start at hooker in the non-cap international against France

Photo: RFU Archive

The match will also mark a significant day for Turner who has not actually played international rugby since England’s defeat to New Zealand in the 2010 Rugby World Cup final. Since the 13-10 loss, Turner has been beset by injuries as well as having to make the transition to the front row and earn the right to play in that position.

"After the world cup final I went back to premiership rugby and I expressed my intention to the England and Richmond coaches," she said. "They were good about it but before I had a chance to make the move I injured myself playing sevens in Dubai. Initially, it was just going to be six weeks out and an operation and I knew I could deal with that.

"But then there were further complications as I injured myself again, and then again.  So I had to have another operation and basically I spent a year on the sidelines injured which was hugely frustrating.

"Throughout the year I was kept in the picture by the English coaches. The coaches were concerned that I might not be able to last a full 80 at hooker but I have been doing a lot of work on body positions, striking off the ball and working with Simon Hardy, the England Specialist Coach, and he has been awesome. We had a hooking camp recently with him and just being in an environment like that for two days was massively beneficial and now I am in with a shot."

And if Turner can do enough to impress on Wednesday night, she is hoping that Head Coach Gary Street will give her a starting cap at hooker against France on Saturday in the full international test match at the Pierre de Coubertin Stadium in Chateaurenard.

"For me, I never got a starting cap at nine. I came off the bench for my first cap but it really would mean the world to me to start my first game at hooker but that is something quite rare. I may have 50 plus caps at scrum half, but now I see myself as not having any.

"If I get that starting cap at hooker I will be over the moon. That is the highest privilege as far as I am concerned. I am now more excited and more motivated than ever. I have got my teeth into a new position and I have a new hunger to my game."

England Women Autumn International Series

Nov 2: France v England, Jean Bouin Stadium, Marseille, KO 6pm GMT
Nov 5: France v England, Pierre de Coubertin Stadium at Chateaurenard, KO 2pm GMT
Nov 26: England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, KO 5pm
Nov 29: England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm
Dec 3: England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, 2pm

Tickets for the game first match against New Zealand at Twickenham on November 26 are available via RFU.com and group booking are available from the RFU by calling 0871 22 22 017, option 6. Prices range from £65 to £35. Junior tickets cost just £15.

Tickets for the international tests at Esher RFC on November 29 and December 3 will be available on the gate and cost £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.