Katy Daley-Mclean says winning her 100th international cap will be a special moment – but insists it was the last thing on her mind when she started playing rugby in South Shields as a youngster.
The World Cup winner will join a special club tonight when she reaches a century of appearances for England when they take on USA at Allianz Park.
Daley-Mclean will become just the sixth England player to hit the milestone - joining men’s star Jason Leonard and her fellow women’s team-mates Amy Garnett, Rochelle Clarke, Sarah Hunter and former Jarrovians coach Tamara Taylor.
It marks another high point in the career of the South Shields-born star, who went from watching her dad David play for Westoe to becoming England’s 2014 World Cup winning skipper.
“It wasn’t ever something I thought about when I started playing rugby, it wasn’t an ambition,” she told the Gazette.
“I wanted to play internationals and play for England in a World Cup but it never crossed my mind about getting 100 caps.”
There have been so many high points for the 32-year-old but where does it rank alongside her other achievements, which include representing Great Briatin at the 2016 Olympics as well as that famous World Cup triumph which saw her awarded an MBE?
“It wasn’t something I set out to achieve,” Daley-Mclean insists. “But I’m proud to join the club with Amy Garnett, Rochelle Clarke, Sarah Hunter and Tamara Taylor.
“To be part of that is pretty special.
“They are talented and determined players who put in so much hard work.
“The World Cup was obviously pretty special but there was also the Six Nations titles and being captain when we lifted those.
“And winning in New Zealand last year which had never been done since 2001, being part of that was fantastic.”
It’s 11 years since Daley-Mclean made her England debut and her career has progressed from being the bright young prospect of women’s rugby, to the finest kicker in the world. Now, as one of the more experienced members of the squad, she still has goals and ambitions for more success, with professional contracts set to be reintroduced to the women’s game.
“I’ve been used to working in four year cycles with the World Cup but now it is about focusing more short-term,” she said. “I’d love to go to another World Cup but there’s no guarantees.
“It’s just about working on me, on parts of my game and enjoying my rugby now.
“With age comes more experience, I’m more wise. I’ve got much more focus on how I can impact the team, rather than worrying about everything.”
Ever the professional, Daley-Mclean insists that the team comes first tonight as the Red Rose kick off their autumn internationals.
But watched by her dad David, mam Catherine and sister Gemma, she admits it will be a memorable occasion and one she will take time out to savour.
“I’m out there to do a job for England but I think it will be important to take a moment and recognise and acknowledge how I’ve got to this point,” she said.
“But after that I need to focus on my game and doing the job I’ve been picked for as beating USA is the main thing.”