Emily Scarratt eyes England return for Six Nations after injury nightmare

Emily Scarratt - Emily Scarratt eyes England return for Six Nations after injury nightmare
Emily Scarratt returned to action for the first time in 13 months last Friday for Loughborough Lightning in a 33-17 defeat at Bristol - Getty Images/Bob Bradford

England centre Emily Scarratt believes she has “a few more years” left of her career as she turns her attention to targeting a spot in the Red Roses’ Six Nations squad.

Scarratt enjoyed a 48-minute return for Loughborough Lightning in their Premiership Women’s Rugby defeat to Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate last Friday night, marking her first competitive appearance in 13 months.

The 34-year-old, who has been capped 108 times by her country and was a World Cup winner in 2014, had been sidelined since January last year having undergone surgery for a career-threatening neck injury.

It was the second setback the former World Player of the Year has endured in recent years – she recovered from a broken leg to make the 2022 World Cup in New Zealand,

Scarratt’s return to the sport is timely, not least because England have a home World Cup next year. Remarkably, it would be her fifth appearance at the finals should she be selected.

She insisted however that next year’s women’s rugby showpiece was not a motivation for going under the knife to preserve her career and that her immediate focus is to simply “find my match lungs again.”

“You know how you feel in your own body and what it’s still capable of,” said Scarratt. “Obviously now I’m back up in training, I feel pretty good. I know, hopefully, it’s got a few more years in it if we get that far. I’m just excited about getting my teeth stuck into a period of training. The last two, three, years – even with the leg break – have been a bit disjointed. [I’m] just trying to get a bit of consistent training back in.”

Despite being a household name and with her legendary status in the game already secured, Scarratt’s place in the Red Roses’ Six Nations squad would appear less certain given her lack of minutes.

With John Mitchell, the England head coach, naming his squad on March 11, Scarratt has just two opportunities to rack up some precious game time, with Loughborough welcoming Sale at Franklin’s Gardens this Sunday before the team face Exeter Chiefs on March 9.

“It’s an aim, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” said Scarratt when asked whether she had thought about an England call-up.

“But I do have to remember how long I’ve not played the game for. I’ve got to get back going, playing some rugby again and finding my lungs again in order to even put myself in a position to be back there. I’m respectful of that and not trying to get too ahead of myself.

“All the girls who’ve been playing in the last 13 months have had a lot of training and playing time and all the consistency that I haven’t. I’ll just put my head down and see where that leads me.”

This weekend will mark the first time that all women’s premiership games will be broadcast for the first time – either on TNT Sports or through a livestream – and will be played in men’s stadia.

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