England may be the old enemy, but Scotland skipper Rachel Malcolm has nothing but respect for Red Roses co-captain Sarah Hunter.
The duo are clubmates at Loughborough Lightning but rivals on the international stage, with both sides preparing for a mouth-watering encounter at Kingston Park in the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Scotland will be desperate for the win in their opening game of the Championship having lost their last nine matches in all competitions.
However, that has not stopped Malcolm from showing respect to one of the greatest to ever play the game.
“For me, she is probably one of the best leaders that women’s sport has ever seen, let alone women’s rugby,” she said.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah Hunter, as a person, as a player,
and as a leader.
“I am really lucky that I have played the majority of my club rugby alongside her and to have been coached by her as well.
“In terms of the wider game, I would argue that there is not a player that has influenced the game as much as she has.
“The way she performs every single time she goes on the pitch, for her club, for training, for England: that is what being a rugby player is about.
“I look at her in training, and even still that is what I aspire to be because she never gives less than 110%.
“In terms of role models, it doesn’t get much better than that, and she is a really kind human being as well.
“She is not only influencing England and Loughborough Lightning, but she is also influencing other countries because we can go back and help our countries as well.
“It is probably not what she is aiming for, but it is what has happened.”
Six Nations Rugby, the official organising body responsible for the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, broke all fan engagement records in 2022 and highlighted its commitment to giving the women’s game the best possible platform to grow.
The 2023 edition of the Championship stands to build on this progress, with even bigger crowds expected, more international broadcasters covering all the action and unprecedented social and digital promotion for the heroes of the women’s game.
Scotland will face Wales at the DAM Health Stadium in Round 2 ahead of a trip to France, before finishing their Championship with home matches against Italy and Ireland as they look to avoid a repeat of last year when they finished with the Wooden Spoon.
However, Malcolm is relishing the opportunity to test herself against the Red Roses just four months on from their World Cup final defeat against New Zealand.
She added: “They are arguably the best team in the world, and it is always a tough challenge, but we train day in and day out to compete against the best.
“Although it is going to be tough, it is also an opportunity because if any team is going to expose your weaknesses, it is going to be England.
“If there are any holes in our armour, they are going to find them, and we can learn from that and take it forward into the rest of the tournament.
“We want to narrow that gap down, we want to stop them as much as possible, but we also want to put points on the board.
“It is a tough start, but it is a challenge we are excited about facing.”
For all the latest TikTok Women’s Six Nations news, information, and details on how to watch the Championship, visit: https://womens.sixnationsrugby.com/