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Opinion

Cunningham’s England importance emphasised

21 Jun 22, 9:14PM 0 Comments

Written by John Davidson

Photo by RFL

England’s women’s team defeated France 36-10 on Saturday but didn’t have it all their own way.

England had to work hard to defeat the gallant French in Warrington, who went down to 12 players with a sin binning in the second half.

The hosts will be looking to make their mark against Australia and New Zealand in the World Cup at the end of this year. It is a huge challenge, and may end up being beyond their grasp, but one player will need to shine if they are to upset the top two.

On the weekend Jodie Cunningham again showed her importance to England, and how vital she is to the national team’s results.

Playing at loose forward, Cunningham posted some big individual numbers against the French in the 26-point victory.

 
According to Stats Perform, the St Helens star made a team-high 26 tackles and a game-high 221 metres. She also made 24 runs, more than any other player on the pitch, and 60 post contact metres, more than any of her teammates.

Cunningham set up three of England’s tries, did not make an error, broke three tackles and missed just once in defence.

It was an outstanding display that demonstrated her class and ability.

Able to play everywhere from fullback to the halves and at 13, Cunningham’s mixture of skill, ball-playing ability and work-rate makes her indispensable to Craig Richard’s team.

With Courtney-Winfield Hill and Georgia Roche, the Leeds Rhinos’ playmakers now in the halves, England have the game management that is needed in the spine and Cunningham can now thrive in the back-row and have a huge impact.

A leader on and off the field, the 30-year-old has already won everything on offer in the club game in the UK. She has been representing her country since 2009 and has transitioned from one of the youngest in the national team to now being one of the veterans.

Super League’s Women of Steel in 2021, England will need her to shine and replicate these numbers this October.

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