Six Nations: England captain Sarah Hunter says it 'means everything' to end career in Newcastle

England captain Sarah Hunter, from North Shields, is retiring after Saturday's Six Nations opener against Scotland. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

England rugby captain Sarah Hunter has said it "means everything" to finish her career in her home city.

Hunter will be leading her team out in England's Six Nations match against Scotland at Kingston Park for her last match.

She announced this week the match in her home town of Newcastle would be her last before her retirement.

Hunter, who has 141 caps for England, said it "meant everything" for the match to be at Kingston Park.

She said: "I don't know who made the decision to bring it to Newcastle but when I saw we were having a game here, and to play for England and to come back where it all started - Newcastle has a very special place in my heart being from here. All my family still live up here and to know my career is going to finish where it started means everything."

Speaking at a training session on Friday, she said: "I think I'm feeling pretty relaxed. I'm trying to take every moment in and not think about what's next. The preparation has been about what we need for a game. That's where my head is, tomorrow might be a but different.

"At the moment it's all about the match and match prep and what the team needs and what I need to do."

  • England captain Sarah Hunter spoke to ITV Tyne Tees ahead of the Six Nations match at Kingston Park

The 37-year-old, who is originally from North Shields, is England's most capped player and has spent the last 16 years as an international.

The match this weekend will be her 16th Women's Six Nations tournament opener.

The Red Roses captain was part of the squad that won the 2014 World, Cup and was also captain when the national team reached the final in both 2017 and 2022.

Hunter, who was 2016 women's world player of the year, will continue to coach Loughborough Lightning until the end of the season.

Reflecting on her career, she said: "I just started playing randomly and loved it. I played for sheer enjoyment, not aspirations or dreaming to play for the country.

"It's been a pretty surreal but pretty special career and one that's gone beyond my wildest imagination.

She added: "When I grew up I didn't know there was an England women's team until I was 16. There was no social media, we weren't on TV. We didn't sell out crowds. We weren't visible. Hopefully now we are, it's showing girls they can have the aspiration to be the next big player.

"We are professionals - I get paid to play rugby - and that's only happened in the last four or five years. Hopefully children can look up and go 'I can be a female rugby player and it can be my job'. That's incredible."

A mural of Sarah Hunter is on display at her former club of Novocastrians RFC. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Graeme Cooper, her former coach at Novacastrians RFC, said: "It's the end of an incredible journey. I'm proud to be associated with Sarah. She started here from the humble beginiings at Novos and she's gone on to have what can only be described as an incredible career in international rugby.

"She's an ambassador for rugby in general. The way she conducts herself is everything you would want from someone in sport. She will rightly be seen as a legend and a role model for the sport."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...