Royal London | Lions Watch with Shaunagh Brown


Royal London | Lions Watch with Shaunagh Brown

Royal London ambassador Shaunagh Brown will be picking out some of the rising stars in action during the Women’s Six Nations as key players to watch ahead of the inaugural Lions Women’s Tour in 2027. Find out more about Lions Women Founding Partner Royal London here.

The Guinness Women’s Six Nations is in full flow with the Red Roses leading the way so far. Here is what Red Roses legend Shaunagh Brown, winner of 30 England caps and three Grand Slams, has made of the competition so far as she picks out some young players to keep an eye on…

Sisilia Tuipulotu – Wales

“Sisilia is the kind of player who you don’t want running at you, and you certainly don’t want her to pick up speed. It feels like a steam train. If you get her stationary, you might be able to do something about her but if you get her at full tilt with anything more than a five-metre run-up, you are just closing your eyes, wrapping your arms and hoping for the best when you try to tackle her.

“She’s predominantly a tighthead now and she’s owning that position in the scrum. She’s previously been moved around but it seems that tighthead is the position for her. You can see her growing into it.

“She’s a very impactful player. When she’s on the team as your teammate, you’re also lifted. So I wonder if that is why Wales used her off the bench (against England), to lift the team knowing that someone who is known for getting over the gain line and making half breaks on. There’s a mindset aspect to it.”

Neve Jones – Ireland

“Neve Jones is probably at the top end of the youngsters, at 25. But she’s had quite the season with Gloucester in the club game and she’s become unstoppable in the hooker position. Sometimes they will use her in the back row, but she’s sort of player that you just want on the pitch, by any means necessary.

“She’s really growing into her own. She’s almost a perfect complement to Sisilia. She gets so low to the ground, I’ve been tackled by her, she’s about half my size but she is just around your feet, so it doesn’t matter how big you are or how fast you are, if someone gets around your feet, you’re not going anywhere. She’s brave, some of the people she stands in front of to tackle, she is just going at everyone. Some people will hold back but she is everywhere, she’s a complete workhorse.

Sadia Kabeya – England

“I’m conscious that this is three forwards, but I’m a forward! The backs get all the glory. Sadia is 22, she was my roommate at the World Cup and it was an experience getting to know her. She’s that classic back row player who is a dog on the pitch, she will tackle anything from any angle – to the point that she makes the tackle and the question you ask is where did she come from?

“You see the same player at club level and international level. Some players don’t fulfil their full potential for England, myself included. I felt like I played differently for Quins but Sadia, you see the same player each week playing for Loughborough and then going into the Six Nations. It’s the same fearless player.

“England are moving her between the six and seven role. She’s the next generation of back-row player. She went to school in South East London, not necessarily a breeding ground for rugby players but for me, who also grew up in South East London, it means that you have to work for it. You can see on the pitch that she takes nothing for granted.”

Emma Orr – Scotland

“She’s still only 20. I don’t know that much about her which is exciting. What I do know is what I see her do for Scotland. She is the back who carries, it’s a theme as to the type of rugby players I prefer. She has that fearlessness.

“You can see sometimes that the plan is to get the ball wide but she spots a gap and goes for it. She looks like she is thinking and assessing in the moment what is the best thing. In WXV, you saw it, making line breaks when she had no right. She made decisions and backed herself and she’s been the same in the Six Nations so far.

“Sometimes as a forward, looking at the backs, you know what the call is and know where the ball is meant to end up. But she does that, and as a forward, you end up thinking that I have got to get there. When she does it, it’s the right decision and she’s making dents in the defensive line. You’ll get to the point that when Emma is on the ball, she might carry, she might shift it – so I best prepare for the worst and get to her ruck!”

The Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series will take place in New Zealand, the home of the current world champions with the Lions Women’s team playing three Tests against the Black Ferns alongside pre-Test fixtures.

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