“It is a remarkable achievement to earn 138 caps for your country and it deserves to be celebrated,” said Simon Middleton, the England head coach. “The way she conducts herself in everything she does, both on and off the pitch, is admirable. Her social skills, ability to lead and communicate with people from all walks of life make her stand out.
“I think as an athlete the only thing you hope to be able to do when you look back is to be able to say to yourself, ‘I couldn’t have given more, I’ve been the best I could be’. Sarah is one of the few who will be able to do that unequivocally.”
Hunter, who was named World Player of the Year in 2016, will lead a heavily modified England kit against Australia, who are ranked sixth in the world and known for their fast, physical play.
After impressing against the Springboks in her World Cup debut, Tatyana Heard has kept her place at center, with Helena Rowland getting a rare opportunity at fullback, a sign that Middleton is anticipating another challenge.
“England v Australia is always a big event in any sport and we are looking forward to playing against a team that we don’t often see,” he said. “The excitement has certainly built up this week. Australia has had some very fast starts in their pool games, so it’s important that we improve their efforts and set the pace and physical levels. ”
England (v Australia, Sunday 1.30am): H Rowland; L Thompson, E Scarratt, T Heard, A Dow; Z Harrison, L Infante; V Cornborough, A Cokayne, S Bern, Z Aldcroft, A Ward, A Matthews, M Packer, S Hunter (capt). substitutions L Davies, H Botterman, M Muir, R Galligan, P Cleall, L Packer, H Aitchison, E Kildunne.