Saracens Women representing at the TikTok Six Nations
Donna Rose picked up a great souvenir from the England v Wales TikTok Six Nations game – Marlie Packer’s shirt!
The Wales prop collared her Saracens teammate at the end of the game at Kingsholm and not only swapped shirts, but went the whole hog and exchanged a complete playing strip.
“She has been a great help in all of this giving me advice, helping me out and spending a little bit longer with me after training.” Donna Rose
Packer has been a long-term inspiration to Rose, who this season was awarded one of 12 full-time professional contracts by the WRU. A two-try hero off the bench in the Welsh win over the Irish at the start of the Six Nations campaign, she then came on to help beat the Scots before earning a start against England.
It was a great moment for her to line-up against Saracens clubmates Packer, Poppy Cleall, Vicky Fleetwood, Sara McKenna and Zoe Harrison and there was plenty of banter on the field during the 58-5 win for the Red Roses.
“As I was running past her I said ‘stay down Marlie’ because I was worried she had hurt herself. She shouted back ‘I’m not on the pitch with Saracens now’ – it was that kind of banter,” said Rose.
“We came together after and swapped shirts. In fact, we actually swapped a full strip, so I’m definitely going to be framing Marlie’s kit.
“We’re very good friends and we travel together quite a bit. She’s very professional and I’d like to think now that I’m a professional as well.
“You can’t turn that off and you have to do your thing for your country. She has been a great help in all of this giving me advice, helping me out and spending a little bit longer with me after training.
“The score line against England certainly hurt. England are very good side and we knew what they were going to bring.”
After a two week break, the fourth round of the Six Nations got underway at the weekend. Wales hosted France on Friday night and England meet Ireland on Sunday in a Triple Crown match for the Red Roses.
Meanwhile, Rose just wants to keep on embedding herself in the Welsh set-up as she set her sights on a trip to the World Cup in New Zealand in October.
“I was lucky enough to get a contract. I don’t know what they saw in me, but there was something, so I’m willing to give it 100%,” she said.
“I’ve always had that mentality, throw me something and I’ll give you 100% – I don’t like failing. It’s now a year since I switched to play at tight head prop and I my first full game was my first cap against France.
“At the start, the scrums were a bit ‘Oh no, I’m in the thick of it here’, but I secretly loved it. After being awarded a full-time contract I woke up and thought ‘Oh gosh, I’m a full time athlete now – am I good enough?’
“You are constantly challenging yourself and there’s a little voice in your head that keeps doubting you. It’s like a devil on your shoulder.
“You’ve got to get to grips with it. I hear what it’s saying, but I’m a little bit stronger now and I’ve got good people behind me.
“Coming to Wales with the girls has helped me to fight those demons. We’ve got a great set-up and a great bond, and we’ve also got the coaches, the physios and the doctors to help. Every day is a challenge, but every day I feel as though I’m learning.”
“Being a professional has made me realise it’s more than just on the field, it’s off field as well. Rest is one of the main things, your body gets beaten and you do need to rest.
“There’s a lot more to it than just pushing in the scrums. Analysis and understanding are important and I think I’ve improved my skills and all round knowledge of the game.”
As well as looking forward to ending the Six Nations on a high, Rose is also looking forward to getting back to StoneX Stadium to help the ‘Women in Black’ go one better than last season, when they were beaten in the Allianz Premiers15s final by arch-rivals Harlequins.
Alex Austerberry’s side guaranteed a top of the table finish with two rounds left to play of the regular season and will be at home in their semi-final play-off game.
“The Quins loss in last season’s final still hurts, but I think we’re good enough this year. We’re better connected as a team, there’s a better atmosphere at training and everything like that,” added Rose.
“We very much want to win and work together as a team and I think we’re ready for it. The hard work will begin again when we all come together after the Six Nations.
“We’ve had a fantastic season in the Premiership and, hopefully, we can carry that fantastic form into the semis and into the final. Saracens has been a big part of my journey and it is a great club – they’ve helped me become a better player.
“I’ve worked with Alex, the head coach, for seven years and he certainly knows what he’s doing. He told me I needed to be a prop rather than a No 8 when I was younger and he gave me a plan to make that change.
“He simply said ‘let’s do this, let’s make you a prop’. I’ve got the best people at Saracens supporting me in every way and now have a new scrummage coach in Juan ‘Chipi’ Figallo, and he’s fantastic.”
See these stars in action at StoneX Stadium for the Allianz Premier 15s semi-final, book your tickets now!