England scrum half Natasha Hunt delivered a rallying cry ahead of their clash with Canada at the Twickenham Stoop tonight (kick off 7pm) as she called on her team-mates to “blow away” their rivals.
England suffered successive defeats to Canada at the Nations Cup earlier in the year – losing a 29-25 thriller in their opening clash before going down 27-13 in the final at Infinity Park, Colorado.
But Gary Street’s squad is full of confidence ahead of the match-up, which will be live on RFU.com, following their 40-20 triumph over France at Twickenham on Saturday.
Hunt is keenly aware of the threat posed by the Canadians, particularly their physicality and pace out wide, but the Lichfield scrum half is adamant England can avenge the Nations Cup defeats.
“They are a very, very physical side and we know that,” she told RFUtv. “We have played them on the Sevens circuit as well [as at the Nations Cup] and I know there programme is quite strong in terms of how many players they have had training as full-time semi-pro athletes. So we know they are going to come out firing. They have improved year on year.
“I think we under-performed at Nations Cup. We had one strong game against them when we ran them quite close, but in the second game we definitely underperformed – we know that as a squad. I think we have a strong squad going into this and we have got to look to win it, we have just got to look to blow them away.
“We know they can run if they are given space. They have got some quite good wingers that can take people on. They scored two good tries against France recently running from their 22. We just need to make sure we are physically and then we can blow them away.
“If we are smashing that breakdown and putting that pressure on then they are not going to be able to play. It is just all about us; how we defend and how we attack.”
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After coming off the bench against France, Hunt will start against Canada and she said there are plenty of areas for the team to work despite a convincing victory over France.
In particular she highlighted an improvement in ball retention and the ability to put in a full 80-minute performance as keys against Canada, who beat France 11-6 last week.
“I think we performed really well on Saturday,” she said. “There are bits that we can still improve and tweak – there is always going to be – but it was really important for us as a group of players to get that love back and get back to winning ways.”
She added: “The key thing we picked up from that game is just to make sure we are performing for not only 40 minutes but taking that through to the second half and making sure we put a performance in that lasts that whole 80.
“We gave away too many unforced errors and that is what killed us in the second half really so that is one of the key things, and making sure that we keep that tempo high because we know we can play.
“We have an excellent forward pack and some outstanding, world-class backs. If we are enjoying ourselves and playing heads up rugby we are an unstoppable team I believe.”
Tickets for England’s clash against Canada are still available via www.ticketmaster.co.uk (0844 847 2492) and www.quins.co.uk (0208 410 6000). Tickets are priced £10 for adults and £5 for under 16s. You can also watch the match live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive or listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.