England women's autumn internationals: Contracts mean no World Cup excuses - Sarah Hunter

Sarah Hunter
Hunter and her team will meet Ireland at Twickenham on 23 November
Women's international: England v United States
Venue: Allianz Park, London Date: Friday 8 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Captain Sarah Hunter says full-time 15-a-side contracts for her side mean they "have no excuse" not to win the Women's Rugby World Cup in 2021.

The Rugby Football Union reintroduces contracts for England's XVs squad in January, having decided to focus on sevens after the 2017 World Cup.

"We have got an amazing opportunity," said Hunter, whose side face the United States in London on Friday.

"If we want to be number one and maintain that, we need time together."

She added: "Contracts mean you can be fully focused on being a rugby player. It is really exciting to think how good could this team be."

Coach Simon Middleton said it would be hard to decide who to award contracts to.

Some players, such as firefighter and Harlequins forward Shaunagh Brown, do not want to give up their existing careers, while some of the RFU's centrally contracted sevens players could switch formats.

"They will be really tough calls but it is a position you want to be in," Middleton told BBC Sport.

"They are good decisions to have to make. There is a lot of competition and once we get through the autumn matches we will have a look at what we have got and put the squad together."

Number eight Hunter, who was part of the team that won the World Cup in 2014 and lost in the final four years later to New Zealand, said that even she was not assured of a deal.

"You can never assume anything, until you get a bit of paper or a phone call with an offer you can't be sure," she added.

England's players will attempt to press their individual cases against the United States on Friday before concluding their autumn series with Tests against Canada on Sunday, 18 November and Ireland the following Saturday.

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