Published: 05:00, 18 October 2021
| Updated: 08:44, 18 October 2021
By Henry Clark
A rugby player from Rochester has moved one step closer to her dream of representing her country after being selected for the England Centre of Excellence at Premiership club Wasps.
Siena Stickings, 15, was already selected for Kent under-18s two years early before four further trials with the Premiership side saw her offered a spot on their elite programme.
The Year 11 Chatham Grammar School pupil, who plays for Dartford Valley, said she couldn’t believe it when her dad, Luke, revealed the news.
She said: “I was over the moon and I am so excited to get started.”
Luke, who is a director at Dartford Valley, added: “We are immensely proud of her but she seems to take things in her stride.
“I feel confident me and my wife Laura can support her, but I just want her to enjoy it more than anything else.”
Siena had an unconventional upbringing in the game after her family relocated to Italy from Kent when she was born.
After returning when she was 10, Luke was keen to get his three children involved at the club where he used to play.
He said: “She was part of the youth academy at Dartford Valley right from when she came back to the UK and quickly developed her skills.
“It’s unusual for a Premiership side to invest in someone so young on a national pathway programme, but they have obviously seen something about the way she plays and carries herself.”
After using lockdown to work on her fitness, Siena, who played basketball at the national championships before the pandemic, felt she was capable of matching the older girls physically.
“It’s a bit scary turning up to games and there are big, strong girls there,” she said. “But it’s beneficial for me because it’s getting me prepared for playing against them when I am their age.”
Luke added: “We never expected her to get into the Centre of Excellence, especially having just turned 15. She’s turning up and playing against girls driving cars with their own jobs or who are preparing for university.”
Siena is the youngest girl selected for the programme which will see her receive professional coaching at Wasps. From this pool of players, the England under-18 squad will be selected in the new year.
Along with other members of the Dartford Valley youth academy, Siena was also fortunate to enjoy a coaching session from England coach Eddie Jones at Twickenham.
She said: “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I genuinely couldn’t believe I was there.
“One day my dream would be to be selected for the England team and win the World Cup, like the Roses did back in 2014.”