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West Malling's Rosie Galligan says England breakthrough has come earlier than expected after making her senior debut in Six Nations win over Ireland

Rosie Galligan made an unexpected debut for England women in their Six Nations opener in Ireland.

Galligan, from West Malling, replaced captain Sarah Hunter during the second half of a 51-7 win in Donnybrook earlier this month.

It was a special moment for the young forward, whose call-up came at least two years ahead of schedule.

Rosie Galligan, far left, and her England team-mates keep their concentration in their Six Nations clash against Ireland earlier this month
Rosie Galligan, far left, and her England team-mates keep their concentration in their Six Nations clash against Ireland earlier this month

She only made her under-20s debut less than a year ago but her form at Premiership leaders Saracens caught the eye and with Abbie Scott and Zoe Aldcroft out injured, Galligan got the nod.

She said: “There were a few injuries but the forwards coach, Richard Blaze, said to me with adversity comes opportunity and that’s really stuck with me.

“I was just at work and I had a text from him saying can you learn these lineouts just in case you’re needed for the Six Nations and obviously that was a bit of a shock straight away.

“I then got the call from Richard so I spent the next two days on my laptop looking through the lineouts and learning all the calls so I could go in and feel confident and know what I’m doing.

“I went into camp on the Monday and was just thrown in at the deep end. At the end of the session he said he was really impressed with the way I came in and earned the respect from my team-mates, as well as the girls coming up and saying well done, which was nice.”

Galligan’s big moment arrived in the 71st minute.

She said: “I came on for Sarah, which I wasn’t expecting, just because she was calling the lineouts and I didn’t think they’d put that responsibility on me.

“But knowing they had, they believed in me to come on and do a job, and that was really nice.

“Seeing her smile as I walked on, and having all the girls back me, was great. Knowing I was coming on to a senior field against a hard Ireland team, it was a bit scary but rugby’s rugby and you go out there with the drive to play as well as you can.”

Rosie Galligan took up rugby just five years ago and is now an England international
Rosie Galligan took up rugby just five years ago and is now an England international

Galligan, a former pupil at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, only started playing rugby five years ago.

The 20-year-old has made rapid progress with Saracens after coming through at Aylesford but felt a senior cap was some way off.

She said: “It’s definitely come far sooner than I expected.

“My aim was to hopefully get involved after the World Cup in 2021 but with the way the Premiership has been going, and the increase in women’s rugby in general, I’ve developed a lot quicker than I thought I would.

“I’m doing well at Sarries, developing under Alex Austerberry, the new head coach, and having the backing from people to take the opportunities has been a real boost to help me focus on myself and get to where I want to be.

“Being the lineout leader and the lineout caller you realise that people are talking about your tactics and strategies and how you go into a game.

“There has been a bit of talk but at the same time I’m still new.

“I only started five years ago, so I’ve still got so much to learn, but being in the England environment has made me challenge myself under pressure, which has helped massively.”

Galligan would like to thank Spar Parkfoot in West Malling for their sponsorship.

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