FEATURE INTERVIEW | Ella Wyrwas
Ella Wyrwas was in the England training camp last week learning what it’s going to take for her to finally make the grade as a senior international.
The centre turned scrum half has been one of the biggest hits at Saracens this season and made the Red Roses squad for the Autumn Tests and Six Nations.
One man who believes she is set to go all the way to the top is her coach at Saracens, Alex Austerberry. A great spotter and nurturer of talent, Austerberry expects her to increase the number of senior caps at the club in the very near future.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Ella since she was 13. We are now seeing the best of her,” he said.
“She has a very infectious enthusiasm for the game. That, combined with her obvious skill set, has marked her out for international honours.
“She has made a number of major contributions on the field for us this season, none more so than her brilliant solo try against Bristol Bears at the StoneX Stadium. That score helped to turn a very close contest into our favour and keep us on top of the table.
“We always knew she was going to turn into a very good player and she has worked hard to get herself ready to play on the international stage. We all just hope she gets the chance sooner rather than later.”
So, too, does Wyrwas, who returned to Saracens this season after playing for three seasons at Loughborough Lightning while she was studying for a Biology degree at Nottingham University. She left North London on a high, having been on the bench when Saracens won the then Tyrell’s Premier15s final against Harlequins.
That was at the end of a season when she transitioned from being an outside back to playing at scrum half. For a year and a half while she was away she was on the sidelines with a long-term injury and so she admits to still picking up the full range of skills of playing in the No 9 jersey.
“My main goal when I returned to Saracens was to get over my injury problem and get as much game time as possible at scrum half. I am still fairly new to the position and I can’t thank the coaching team enough for the work they have done with me,” said Wyrwas.
“That, along with a good run of games, has helped me to develop my game this season and become more confident in my role. I’ve played the game all my life (she joined Sarries minis at the age of 6) and I have all the general skill sets and rugby knowledge, but I needed to learn about the demands of game management and leadership that come with being a top-flight No 9.”
He return to the club was coupled with a job working with the Saracens Foundation, a role she has not only thrown herself head-long into, but says she loves. Having a distraction away from rugby has helped, even if her head office is the StoneX Stadium.
She is able to seamlessly combine her training with both club and country with her job and is revelling in her responsibilities in working in the disabled sports sector within the Foundation.
“I absolutely love my job and I couldn’t think of having a role that suits me better. I get so much support for my training and then get such a buzz from working with 16-24 years olds with disabilities,” she added.
“At the moment I’m a non-contract player with England, which means I don’t get paid as a full-time athlete. It also means I don’t get to keep any of the training kit!
“The goal is definitely to become a full time athlete at some stage in my career, although I’m so glad I’ve got my work at the Foundation at the moment to help me strike the right balance between rugby and work. I’d be very upset if I had to give up my role at the Foundation.
“Playing for England is obviously the goal. I’ve played at U18 and U20 level and I was in the Red Roses squad in the autumn. I’d love to be full international in the Six Nations.
“That is one of my burning ambitions in life, although the other big goal for this season is to help Saracens win back the Premier15s title. There is still so much hurt within the squad from last season’s cup final defeat to Harlequins that we all feel we have to put things right.”
An England cap and another winner’s medal at a Premier15s final are twin ambitions, with a trip to the World Cup in New Zealand in October coming in as a close third. It’s going to be a busy year for the talented Wyrwas, who will celebrate her 23rd birthday on Monday.