- England's experienced backs keen to finish pool stage strongly
- Waterman and Burford not looking past Canada
With 110 caps between them, Danielle Waterman and Rachael Burford will provide the rock-solid backbone of experience and expertise in England Women’s backline for their third World Cup clash against Canada on Saturday in Marcoussis.
Both are in the midst of their third global tournament and, having featured in both the 65-3 defeat of Samoa and the 45-5 win over Spain, are clearly crucial to Gary Street’s plans.
They start this weekend's Pool A decider at full back and inside centre respectively, and Waterman – making it a hat-trick of outings in the number 15 jersey – explained that accuracy and composure would be important watch-words.
“Against Spain we stuck to our patterns and really took things forward from the Samoa game,” she said. “That’s all the coaches asked of us and the most important thing for the team.
“Canada are a strong, physical side. We know that from coming up against them year-on-year. They’ve also had a lot of players gain experience and develop in the sevens programme, in particular Kelly Russell and Mandy Marchak, who are two of their best strike-runners.
“We’ll need to make sure that our one-on-one defence is spot-on, but we’re mainly looking at how we can stick to our game-plan.”
Waterman will be flanked by wings Kat Merchant and Claire Allan, a pair she considers to be excellent finishers with impressive “all-round skills”.
The distribution and organisation of midfield lynchpin Burford, vice-captain for this tie, is sure to feature prominently too.
Praising the camaraderie within Street’s current set-up, she looked back at her international debut back in 2006, also against Canada, and reflected on her journey since then.
“If I think about how I was in that squad, I was a newbie – a baby with some tremendous experience around me.
“That’s the difference between then and now. Having played for England 53 times, I’ve grown as a person and player.
“It’s a balance of on-field and off-field stuff. You need to take in everything you are told by coaches and support staff, apply that on the pitch and support others around you as well.”
Clearly Burford has grown more comfortable on the international stage over the past eight years. Finishing with a glance at England’s next assignment, the 26 year-old exuded the steely determination shared by her teammates.
“Our focus is to go and perform. Everything else will take care of itself. If we can get the bonus point it’ll be a great building-block for us, but for now we’re just set on getting the win.”