- Alphonsi can't wait to pull on England shirt against France
- Saracens flanker says she is a better player after long absence
Saracens flanker Maggie Alphonsi is desperate to pull on the England shirt once again this autumn and hopes to prove she is an even better player, despite missing 20 months through injury.
The 29-year-old, who has won 63 international caps, has not played for England since March 2012 because of injuries that have interrupted an illustrious career that has included two World Cups and seven successive Six Nation crowns up to last year.
However, following a lengthy rehab process she is back in the England Women’s team and ready to face France at Twickenham this weekend.
Alphonsi admitted she found her enforced absence from the game a huge strain, but was able to able to channel her frustrations by improving aspects of her game, especially her strength, which she hopes to show against France on Saturday.
“It was a really tough experience for me,” she told RFU.com. “Twenty months may not seem very long but actually when you are sitting on the sidelines watching other people play in your position, and playing very well, it is really challenging.
“But I did a lot of training and rehabbing, and made sure I worked hard. I took up cycling as well which helped, but now that I am back I am more excited than I have ever been to play. I am just looking forward to getting out there and wearing that white shirt.
“I have come back for Saracens and been playing really well. I am loving the physical side – I missed that the most really. I had a lot of opportunities to really work on my upper body strength as well. So hopefully going into the Autumn Internationals I will really be able to show that.”
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Having lost 30-20 in their last clash against France – their first Six Nations defeat at Twickenham – England will be eager to gain revenge this Saturday. They will also harbour hopes of payback when they take on Canada, who beat them in the Nations Cup Final, at the Twickenham Stoop on November 13.
Though revenge would be sweet this autumn, England are more focused on the future as they continue to build towards a massive 2014, which includes the Six Nations and World Cup.
“For France we want to make sure we get a good win,” she said. “Last time we played against France we lost at Twickenham so that was a big result for us. The last time we played against Canada, we lost again in the Nations Cup Final.
“So we want to make sure we get two good wins. They are going to be two big games. Canada is going to be a massive game because they are now in our Pool for the World Cup. So we have a lot to prove and Gary Street and Graeme Smith are going to make sure they try all the players and all the combinations before the Six Nations and the World Cup next year.
“Momentum is really key. As we’ve seen with the England guys, once you get some really good wins it makes you really confident. As a team, if we can get some big wins now leading into the Six Nations, it will only be good for us because we will have very good momentum going into a really big year.
“It has been really good in training. It has been positive and everyone is really excited to get started again. France will be a good test for that.”