Welsh women's rugby team pay tribute to Elli Norkett

Elli Norkett playing
Elli Norkett was 17 years old when she played in the Women's Rugby World Cup

Wales women's rugby players and management have paid tribute to Elli Norkett who died after a car crash.

Miss Norkett, 20, from Llandarcy, Neath, had been the youngest player in the 2014 Rugby World Cup.

Head coach Rowland Phillips and players Carys Phillips and Siwan Lillicrap said they would dedicate the rest of the Six Nations campaign to her memory.

"We play for her. That's our mentality going forward - we'll do it for her and nothing else," said Lillicrap.

Miss Norkett also played for Cardiff Metropolitan University, who have designated a game against Loughborough tonight as a tribute match to her.

The venue has been switched to the Arms Park home of Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC because of poor pitch conditions at the original venue.

Lillicrap continued: "I was in the gym yesterday and I was training on my own, struggling to get through and I thought if Elli was here now she'd get through it, so I've got to get through it for her.

"What's important now for us going forward is knowing that we won't be playing with 15 players, we'll be playing with 16 because she will always be with us on the pitch in some [way]."

Miss Norkett died in a two-car collision on the A4109 Inter Valley Road, between Banwen and Glynneath, at about 19:40 GMT on Saturday, 25 February.

She had been capped by Wales at 15-a-side and seven-a-side rugby and was selected for the Great Britain Students sevens.

Rowland Phillips described Miss Norkett as an "outstanding rugby player" with a bright future who had the potential to fulfil her ambition to play in five World Cups.

He said the impact of her death was devastating for Miss Norkett's family and the wider Welsh rugby family.

"The girls here [Phillips and Lillicrap], myself and Caroline Spanton [national women's rugby manager] went to see the family," he said.

"The one thing that they stressed as a family was how close we were as a rugby team, how important it was to Elli and the impact that the extended family had on her life and it's clear to see the impact she had on ours too.

"What Elli would want is for us to pull together tighter to focus.

"We all show our grief and our respect in different ways, but if we can as a group collectively carry her values and her determination with us as a group that would be the perfect way to show our respect for her as a squad."

Wales women play Ireland in Cardiff on 11 March and France away on 17 March.

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