Chichester’s Stacey White will soon achieve a life-long ambition of representing her country after being selected for the England squad to take part in the women’s Rugby League World Cup.
It’s a remarkable achievement as she is the first player from the south of England to be selected for the national side and has been picked despite having played only six games of rugby league - although she has played many games of rugby union.
White was born and bred in Eastergate and attended St Philip Howard School and the University of Chichester. She plays rugby union for Saracens women’s team, who are in the Premiership, and has had England trials in this code too.
White said she was thrilled by the call-up and felt it would be a great honour to represent her country.
“I’m so proud to have the chance to represent England and showcase my skills against world-class opposition like New Zealand,” she said.
“This has been a dream of mine and I cant wait to play. I’d like to thank all my friends and family for their love and support.
“It was shock to get the call-up but I also feel I deserve my place. I was lucky enough to have a trail and it was a surprise as it has been a northern-dominated sport for a long time.
“I hope rugby league becomes more accessible in the south in the future.”
White was first introduced to the sport when a friend recommended she join the Southampton Spitfires, and she hasn’t looked back since.
She said: “My main aim now is to have a starting position in the England side, win the World Cup and carry on playing rugby union.”
The rugby star, who is also a PE teacher, understands the importance of encouraging young athletes to take part in sport.
She said: “I think it’s up to schools to help children become involved in sport - 2012 was a phenomenal year for sport in Britain and I think it will have a massive impact for years to come.
“As a teacher I could see how it affected the children in schools - they were buzzing - and hopefully the next generation of athletes will be as successful as the current one.”
White was also keen to express her thanks to staff in the gym at Westgate Leisure in Chichester, where she trains
regularly, as they have given her free membership in support.
The Women’s Rugby League World Cup takes place later this year.