England captain Sarah Hunter to retire after Six Nations opener against Scotland

Sarah Hunter has played 140 times for England
Sarah Hunter has played 140 times for England

England captain Sarah Hunter has announced that she will be retiring following the opening game of the Six Nations tournament against Scotland on Saturday.

Having made her debut in 2007, Hunter has gone on to become the world's most-capped player and England's most-capped, male or female, with 140 Test appearances to her name.

This will also be her appearance in the 16th Six Nations tournament in which she went on to win 10 titles including nine Grand Slams.

The 37-year-old also was part of the England squad that reached four World Cup finals including a victorious 2014 triumph along with 2010, 2017 and 2022. She was also named World Player of the Year in 2016 and was appointed an MBE in 2015.

"Not many athletes get to choose how and when they call time on their playing careers," Hunter said. "I am very fortunate that I have the opportunity to finish on my own terms. I couldn't think of a better way to do it than in my home town where my rugby journey started.

"I get to finish in a place that has a special place in my heart in front of my friends, family and Red Roses' supporters and I feel very fortunate that I'm able to do that.

"What's more, to play there in a white shirt, which is something I've been immensely proud of, and feel very honoured to have represented my country so many times, feels like an ending I couldn't look past and I feel very fortunate that I get to do this.

"Finally, rugby has been brilliant to play and to represent my country will always be the greatest honour. However, it's not just about the rugby, it's about the people you meet along the way and the memories that you create that I will look back on, remember and cherish."

Hunter said the World Cup final defeat to New Zealand last year pushed her to the 2023 campaign but now has decided to quit her playing career in front of her home crowd in Newcastle.

England head coach Simon Middleton heaped praises on Hunter and her contribution to the side.

"Sarah is the most honest and professional player I have ever known let alone worked with. Throughout her career her commitment to being the best version of herself at every opportunity has shone through in her attention to detail and faultless preparation.

"I would say she has maximised every ounce of her potential, which if when you reflect on your career you can say that, then it puts you in a very special category. She's an absolute inspiration for everybody who has played with her or worked with her and is the ultimate example to every young person who would want to play.

"She's been a dream to be around and work with, she's the ultimate professional. The only thing that supersedes her professionalism is her personality and her qualities as a person. The word legend is overused but it's most definitely not in her case, she is and will always be a true England legend."