Tatyana HEARD says playing in between two greats of English women’s rugby is having a huge benefit on her own fledgling international career.
The 24-year-old earned her fourth cap in England Women’s comprehensive 41-26 victory over France at Doncaster’s Castle Park which puts them in pole position to win the Six Nations.
Inside centre Heard, from Kirbymoorside in North Yorkshire, formed part of an exciting young backline that included wingers Jess Breach and Kelly Smith who scored three of the seven tries between them.
But it is the players directly to her left and right from which Heard is gaining vast experience.
Playing at fly-half and earning her 104th cap on Sunday was Katy Daley-McLean while Emily Scarrett was at outside centre for her 76th appearance in England colours. Their kicking game, in particular, was exemplary and formed the basis for a dominant first half from England against their biggest rivals for the Six Nations title.
“I’m learning plenty off of those two, they’re both really good players, bags of experience so to play inside and outside of those guys is great for me,” said Heard. “I definitely feel like I’m developing with every game. I’ve got a lot more to work on but it’s looking good at the moment.
“Going forward I’m in a good position in between those two.”
Heard’s arrival on the scene just last autumn emphasises the strength in depth now at the disposal of head coach Simon Middleton, something that pleases the Yorkshireman greatly. And because of that, Heard knows she cannot let her standards drop, particularly with Rachael Burford, winner of 81 caps, the person she has displaced in the team.
“There’s great competition, Rachael Burford has got 80-odd caps; she’s really strong, really powerful and has great distribution, so there’s always going to be competition. I just have to keep working hard.”
For Heard, playing in front of 4,674 fans at the home of Doncaster Knights was a genuine thrill.
I’m learning plenty off of those two, they’re both really good players, bags of experience so to play inside and outside of those guys is great for me.Tatyana Heard
“I loved it,” said the former Malton and Norton and West Park Leeds player. “It was good to have most of Yorkshire behind us and it was a really good atmosphere for the girls.”